Skip to main content

Full text of "The Home and foreign review"

See other formats

[No. 8. 




APRIL 1864. 



Price Six Shillings. 



APRIL 1864. 


After nearly ten years of comparative quiet and prosperitj^, 
Ireland has once more obtained an unfortunate prominence, 
and has received of late almost as much attention, and quite as 
much and as varied advice, as in the days of Catholic Emanci- 
pation or of the potato blight. The whole press of this country 
has been occupied with her affairs. The statistical reports bear- 
ing on her agriculture and mineral wealth, her manufactures, 
her trade, her poor-law system, her bank deposits, her emigra- 
tion returns, her railway investments, her general taxation, 
actual and comparative, — all have been sifted and analysed by 
lectui-ers and pamphleteers, to support pet theories or serve 
the purposes of party. From Arthur Young and Wakefield 
down to Perraud and Lasteyrie, the writers, both French and 
English, who have treated of Ireland have been studied with 
almost unexampled attention. Men the most dissimilar — Mr. 
Maguire and Mr. Whiteside — have in two successive years 
pressed the subject of her distress and decline on the considera- 
tion of Parliament at the very beginning of the session. Whilst 
her tried and trusted friends have proclaimed her sufferings, 
those who represent the hereditary foes of her Catholic people 
now profess to deplore the tide that carries, them from her 
shores. The fact of her recent retrogression is so universally 
admitted that even the hopeful Chief Secretary has ceased to 
ignore or deny it. 

The present social condition of Ireland is indeed one that 
furnishes food for very serious and very painful reflection. The 
distress which existed in many parts of the south and west dur- 

voL. IV. a a 

340 The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right, 

ing the winter of 1861-62 has been aggravated by a third defi- 
cient harvest, and has extended to parts of the country hitherto 
comparative^ prosperous. Along with the recurrence of ex- 
treme destitution, there have been many instances of agrarian 
outrage, often attended with circumstances of more than usual 
atrocity. The diminution, too, of the agricultural wealth of the 
country — which, whatever efforts may have been made to conceal 
or explain it, is an ascertained fact — is a sjonptom of decay that 
has aroused the fears of the timid, and called forth forebodings 
of ruin, natural perhaps, but needlessly gloomy. Finally, the 
alarming impetus given by an aggregation of social causes to 
the movement now so generally known as the Irish Exodus, has 
not only excited the feelings of the "friends of the people,'' but 
absolutely frightened some of the very exterminators of 1848 
into expressions of alarm lest the land should become a waste 
from want of hands to till it. Not the least remarkable part of 
this change of tone is to be noticed in the way in which the 
most anti- Irish portion of the English press has lately learned to 
treat the subject. Those who once thought it an excellent thing 
that the Celts were gone — gone with a vengeance ! — now tell 
us that their departure must, on all principles of social and 
political philosophy, be considered a misfortune. The Solicitor- 
General for Ireland indeed, in an able speech lately delivered 
in Dublin, declared his belief that the stream of emigration 
must continue to flow for years yet to come ; and Professor 
Ingram, whose late address to the Statistical Society of Ireland 
has been frequently quoted, neither rejoices nor grieves at it, but 
rests satisfied with endeavouring to account for the exodus on 
strictly economic principles. Among the national and Catholic 
party in Ireland, the continuous emigration is looked on as an 
unmitigated evil. The Bishops in their addresses to their clergy, 
the clergy in their discourses to the people, all agree in this. The 
Attorney-Greneral for Ireland lately declared in the House of 
Commons that " he stood appalled before the gigantic emigra- 
tion in progress from her shores." There is, moreover, a con- 
siderable party in Ireland, adequately represented in the press, 
which, for the last three years, has been at issue with those 
who direct Irish affairs about the reality of the asserted dimi- 
nution of Irish prosperity. Though sincerely grieved at the 
manifest retrogression, it nevertheless sees in that circumstance 
80 tempting a weapon to turn against the " prosperity-mongers" 
that it cannot resist making the most of it. Every additional 
cipher in the decrease column of Sir William Donelly's Statis- 
tical Reports is a fresh damper for viceregal congratulations. 
Every emigrant who sails from the port of Galway is another 
living argument against Saxon misrule. This pai*ty deplores in 

The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right, 341 

all sincerity the decay of the national wealth. It grieves for 
the departure of the bone and sinew from the land ; but in the 
press or on the platform these things furnish telling points 
against the powers that be. Highly-seasoned language, written 
or spoken, is acceptable to the majority of Irishmen. Applause 
is more certainly awarded to vigour than to accuracy ; and the 
result is that important facts are occasionally distorted, and that 
not unfrequently the changes are rung on desolation, oppres- 
sion, and ruin, in a tone that sounds positively exultant. It was 
a favourite expression of O'Connell's, that England's weak- 
ness is Ireland's opportunity. The dictum, however, seems 
to have been changed of late ; and it is Ireland's weakness that 
is now supposed to be Ireland's opportunity. Now in this, as 
in most cases where strong party feelings and prejudices are 
aroused, the truth will be found about half-way between the 
statements of the opposing parties. The late Dr. Whately ad- 
vised a newly-arrived English official never to sit on either 
the right side or the left of an Irish car, but to place himself 
in the driver's seat, and so see both sides. 

The question of emigration has become so mixed up with the 
kindred one concerning small farms, and their consolidation into 
larger ones, that it is difficult to treat the two apart. While, on 
the one hand, the population in Ireland has been steadily dimi- 
nishing, on the other, the average size of the farms has been as 
steadily on the increase. It is not to be wondered at that the 
one fact should have been represented as the consequence of the 
other ; such doubtless has been partially the case, but not to the 
extent that some persons have supposed. Eviction being the 
chief means by which the size of farms has been increased, there 
should, if the emigration were to be accounted for by the consoli- 
dation of farms, be some approximation towards a correspond- 
ence between the statistical returns of eviction and of emigration. 
But if we compare the return of evictions for the ten years end- 
ing with 1862 with the number of persons permanently leaving 
Ireland during the same period, we find of the former 12,351 
cases, numbering 59,187 persons, while the total number of 
those emigrating during the same period was 963,167, or about 
16 emigrants for every person evicted. Again, the same returns 
show^ a proportionate disparity between the diminution in the 
number of farms (whether caused by eviction or otherwise) and 
the diminution in the general population of the country. In 
the twenty years ending with 1862, the period during which 
the consolidation of farms was most rapid, the number of hold- 
ings in Ireland diminished by about 120,000. Now, if we allow 
an average of 4| persons to each holder's family, we shall have but 
540,000 persons dependent on those evicted from or giving up 

342 The Irish Exodus and Tenant liiyht. 

land during a period in whicli the population of Ireland dimi- 
nished by nearly 2,400,000. These figures seem to prove very 
clearly that the largest proportion of those whose emigration 
can be even indirectly traced to their having, either voluntarily 
or under compulsion, given up their land in Ireland is, roughly 
speaking, as one to four. But if we leave statistics aside for the 
moment, and found our observations on the personal experience 
of those well acquainted with the emigration movement, we shall 
find that the great majority of emigrants who leave Ireland for 
America, or for the manufacturing districts of England or Scot- 
land, consists of unmarried men and women — the junior mem- 
bers of small farmers' and cottiers' families, who are unable to 
find remunerative employment at home, and set out to seek it 
in other countries. 

Before the potato failure, almost every farmer holding from 
ten to thirty acres of land sought to make provision for his sons 
by a partition of his farm. When the eldest son married, he 
was settled on a corner of the father's farm, a house with a shed 
or pigsty attached being built for the reception of his bride ; 
and when the second and third son married, each got a similar 
slice. This destructive practice was too frequently permitted 
by the landlords ; sometimes from avarice, sometimes to increase 
political influence, sometimes from a mistaken goodnature, but 
most frequently from simple carelessness in the management of 
their estates. Those were the days when "the Irish peasant 
spent half his time in hiding potatoes, and the other half in find- 
ing them." Often paying an exorbitant rent for the doubtful 
privilege of being allowed to settle on the subdivision of an 
already small holding, and living habitually in a very miserable 
manner, yet, as long as the potato flourished, this class of people 
existed and even multiplied. But when the potato failed they 
were left utterly destitute. The fearful ordeal through which 
Ireland passed during 1846-48 is known to every Irishman. 
One of its results was, that the subdivision of farms was no longer 
permitted. The losses sufiered by the owners of densely peopled 
estates during • the famine frightened the landlords into the 
opposite extreme ; and the system of consolidation became uni- 
versal. The process was in too many instances efiected by 
barbarous means : in the majority of cases, however, and espe- 
cially where it is still continued, it is generally carried out by 
the more legitimate course of adding to the adjoining holdings 
any small farm that may become vacant. If, in consequence of 
nonpayment of rent, a landlord be obliged to take possession of 
a five-acre holding, and if he be firmly persuaded that the late 
tenant's failure arose from the mere fact that the land he held 
was insufficient, in any but the most prosperous seasons, to 

The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right, 343 

support a family, much, less to produce any rent, it would be 
folly to expect, or even to wish, the owner, when once free to 
dispose of those five acres, to re-let them as an independent 
holding. If he did so, he would directly injure himself without 
conferring any real benefit either on the person taking the farm 
or on the country at large. But when we reflect that in 1861 
there were still in Ireland 125,549 holdings of less than five 
acres, and 309,480 of less than fifteen acres, out of a total of 
608,564, the continued inclination to consolidate, more especially 
when consolidation is generally accompanied by a decrease of 
tillage, becomes a matter of very serious moment. Still more 
important is it when we find those invested with high authority 
perpetually insisting on the peculiar capabilities of Ireland for 
the production of beef and mutton, and its unfitness for corn. 
Such teachings have been understood by many to mean that 
tillage, by whicb the poor man lives, should decrease, and that 
grazing should be more generally adopted. We cannot say 
whether these phrases were or were not meant to be so construed. 
That they were susceptible of an interpretation not necessarily 
adverse to tillage, we are well aware ; and if that meaning had 
been made more distinctly clear, we conceive that the advice to 
depend on producing meat rather than corn would have been 
extremely valuable.^ But to declare that the future destiny of 
Ireland is to be a prairie almost without inhabitants, but a 
fruitful mother of flocks and herds, shows indifierent states- 
manship, and a very bad idea of farming. One of the many 
facts connected with Irish agricultural statistics, which have been 
in some quarters regarded as anomalous, is that, while the area 
under grass has increased, the numbers of sheep and cattle in 
the country have diminished. There is nothing surprising in 
this circumstance. It is now no longer a matter admitting of 
dispute, that a larger number of stock can be maintained on a 
w^ell-managed farm where a system of mixed husbandry is pur- 
sued than on a mere grazing-farm. Not only has this been 
over and over again proved in the high-farming districts of 
England and Scotland, but the statistical returns of Ireland — 
where high farming is certainly not the rule — show us the same 
thing. In a very suggestive letter which lately appeared in the 
Irish Farmers Gazette,- a comparison is drawn between the 

' There is no doubt that the old " potatoes-and-oats," the "bog-mould for 
manure and scratching for ploughing," system of farming -will not do for the 
future. There is no country in Europe where green crops can be more success- 
fully grown, and none where corn is more precarious, than in Ireland ; and any 
Irish farmer who will not make up his mind to "walk all his produce to 
market" can no longer expect to compete with his British or Continental 

2 Letter from Major O'Reilly, M.!*., to the Irish Farmer's Gazette, Jan. 30. 
1861, p. 47. 

344 The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right. 

amount of stock maintained in a certain number of Irisli counties 
where tillage prevails, and in an equal number, including some 
of the richest land in Ireland, where there is a preponderance of 
grass-land. The result of this comparison clearly shows that those 
tillage counties maintain 34 per c'ent more sheep and cattle to each 
acre of grass than the grazing counties do. There is, moreover, 
a large proportion of the land in Ireland which is naturally 
unfitted for permanent pasturage; and, while we are not disposed 
to deny that there are thousands of acres in several counties into 
which " it would be a sin to put a plough," we are satisfied that 
there is a still larger number now in grass, which, judiciously 
and generous^ tilled, could be made to fatten ten sheep for 
every one that they half-starve at present. The consolidation 
of farms, therefore, may be carried a great deal too far ; and 
while there is little hope that the mere cottier farmer (when 
dependent solely on his few acres for support) will be able to 
hold his ground in competition with the accumulating capital, 
science, and intelligence year by year applied to modern agricul- 
ture, yet we should much regret to see Ireland parcelled out 
into farms of 300 and 400 acres, as England generally now is. 
Irish farmers holding from twenty to forty acres, and with suf- 
ficient skill and capital to make the most of them, have been 
able to meet their engagements even during the three very 
trying years lately passed. And, as we may reasonably hope 
that Ireland will not be visited by any succession of worse or 
more trying seasons than these have been, we may also trust 
that farmers of that calibre will in the future be able, not merely 
to hold their heads above water, but to strike out towards in- 
dependent wealth as boldly as they had begun to do during 
the five favourable seasons immediately preceding the year 

There is one point in connection with the emigration move- 
ment which should be noticed, in order to dispel a very erroneous 
impression which the tone of certain journals has done much to 
create, viz. that there is a feeling of despair amongst the agri- 
cultural class in Ireland, and that the farmers have given up, or 
are giving up, their land, to go to America. Speaking from 
trustworthy information derived from various parts of Ireland, 
we must deny this to be the case ; and we very much doubt if 
in the whole of Ireland twenty instances could be found where 
the tenant of either a large or a small farm, who has paid his 
last half-year's rent and is able to pay the next, has voluntarily 
resigned his land in order to emigrate. 

Statistics clearly show that, however the number of inhabi- 
tants may have diminished in Ireland within the last seven- 
teen years, the agricultural population is still much in excess 

The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right, 345 

of tlie agricultural population of either England or Scotland f 
and bearing this in mind, we cannot avoid the painful con- 
clusion that, if the people of Ireland be destined to remain as 
exclusively as now dependent on the land for their support, 
there is no reasonable expectation of any rapid decrease, much 
less of a cessation, of the emigration."* Plappily , however, not in 
the south alone, but in Leinster and parts of Connaught as well, 
the flax movement seems to have taken a decided hold of the 
public mind. Strenuous and well-directed efforts are being made 
to reestablish the linen manufacture in Ireland ; and if these 
prove successful in producing remunerative employment for a 
large number of hands, not only in the sowing and saving of 
the crop, but also in the various stages of its subsequent manu- 
facture, a great step will have been taken towards checking the 
present wide-spread desire of the unemployed to emigrate. 

The removal of the prohibitory duty on Irish-grown tobacco, 
and the consequent encouragement of the cultivation of that 
plant, for which the climate of Ireland is said to be peculiarly 
suitable, is one of the many schemes proposed by those anxious 
to develope the industrial resources of the country. Any thing 
which will tend to improve the system of agriculture, or to cre- 
ate remunerative occupation for the unemployed in manufactures 
or works unconnected with the land, will be a great boon, and 
may tend to check the emigration by helping to make Ireland 
as good to live in as those countries are to which Irishmen at 
present fly from the compulsory idleness, poverty, and discontent 
which they see around them at home. 

So far we have looked at the present condition of Ireland 
merely from a social as distinct from a political point of view. 
We shall now advert to some of those questions in which indi- 
vidual Irishmen cannot act entirely for themselves, and where 
the interference of the legislature may be required. Conflict- 
ing as are the theories that have been propounded on the Irish 
questions to which we have already referred, still more so are 
those put forth in regard to political affairs. All the evils, 
however, for which these theories prescribe may be ultimately 
traced to one of two sources — social or religious discord. At 
the root of the former is the land-question, with its train of 
eviction, emigration, agitation, and agrarian outrage. At the 
root of the latter is the Established Church of Ireland, an inde- 
fensible anomaly, among the evils emanating from which have 

•^ Irish Emigration considered. By M. J. Barry, Esq., barrister- at-law. pp. 

^ The average annual preponderance of births orer deaths in Ireland is about 
60,000 ; so that, in the absence of any other disturbing causes, a yearly emigra- 
tion to nearly that extent would not have the effect of making the population 
less than it now is. 

346 The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right. 

been murders, jealousies, heartburnings, class animosities, the 
setting of the poor against the rich and of the rich against the 
poor — that chronic discontent and bitterness of feeling which 
make the case of Ireland peculiarly hard to deal with, and 
which must ever be the certain sequel of perpetuated injustice. 

The Times has told us — and it expresses an opinion held by 
many — that the chief bar to the prosperity of Ireland is agrarian 
crime. The reasoning by which this conclusion is reached is 
simple : Ireland requires capital to develope her resources ; 
capitalists will not speculate where life and property are inse- 
cure ; in Ireland the needful security does not exist. There is 
no doubt that about two years ago the friends of Ireland were 
startled from a pleasant dream of hopefulness and security by 
an unexpected outburst of agrarian crime. Tipperary, which 
in 1861 had seen the novel sight of a maiden assizes, was 
visited in 1862 by a special commission. Several murders and 
outrages of a more than usually atrocious description were com- 
mitted in succession in the south of Ireland ; and in the majority 
of instances the guilty escaped. This difficult}^ of bringing crime 
home to its perpetrators has ever been, and still is, one of the 
most disheartening features of Irish agrarian crime. In very 
rare instances can evidence be procured, even where there is, 
amongst persons individually unconnected with the outrage, 
an undoubted knowledge of its details. By some this is at- 
tributed to a sympathy with the criminal, if not to a positive 
approval of his crime ; by others it is attributed merely to a 
fear of the consequences of denouncing the murderer. Be the 
cause what it may, it is a lamentable fact that a murderous out- 
rage may be committed on the public road ; that two, three, 
perhaps a dozen persons, totally unconnected with either the 
assailants or their victim, may witness it ; and yet that from not 
one of those persons can a word of evidence be extorted. The 
temptation of the large rewards offered by Government even for 
private information seems equally powerless with the nobler 
motives that would lead most men instinctively to lay hands 
upon a murderer. This is a state of things so fraught with evil 
to Ireland, that it behoves all those who have her interest and 
that of civilisation at heart to look it boldjy in the face. 

There can be no doubt that the prime cause of almost all 
Irish crime is the land question. Men of all parties admit this 
to be the case. The very name by which this species of crime 
is usually known denotes the general belief as to its origin. 
In the House of Commons, the murders to which we have just 
referred were directly attributed to the state of the laws regard- 
ing land. Although the taste and feeling of those who ex- 
pressed this opinion were animadverted on severely by other 

The Irish Exodus and lenant RighU 347 

members of the House, no one was bold enougli to deny its 
truth. When the Catholic Bishops, in their address to the 
people of Ireland, which appeared about the same time, de- 
plored and denounced the fearful spread of murder and outrage 
in the south, they felt bound simultaneously to declare their 
conviction as to the ever-fertile source from which these mur- 
ders and outrages proceeded. This declaration of the Catholic 
hierarchy, like most other documents of the kind, found many 
severe critics in the English and the Irish press. It was pre- 
tended that, by bringing forward so prominently the defects 
of those laws to which, by their showing, agrarian crime was 
directly attributable, the Bishops were practically justifying 
the very crimes they professed to denounce. In the severest, 
however, of these or similar strictures on the episcopal address, 
there was never any attempt made to deny the truth of the 
assertion it contained. We may fairlj^, therefore, assume as 
granted that the prime cause of Irish agrarian crime is the con- 
dition of the laws respecting land. At any rate, we may assume, 
without fear of contradiction, that to the unsettled and irritable 
state of popular feeling, which, partly with reason, partly with- 
out reason, the public discussion with regard to these laws has 
created, may be ultimately traced that periodically recurring 
series of crimes which is not only a crying disgrace to Ireland, 
but among the greatest of her many social misfortunes. 

If the root of agrarian crime in Ireland is to be found in 
the existing relations between landlord and tenant, a close and 
impartial investigation of these relations becomes an indispens- 
able step in the direction we have proposed to follow. Here, 
indeed, a wide field of enquiry lies open before us ; a field worn 
somewhat bare by the feet of many an anxious searcher after 
truth — marked also by the footsteps of some less anxious to 
find truth than to misrepresent it ; a field, unfortunately, the 
chief product of which has hitherto been a fruit resembling 
closely in its principal attribute the classical apple of discord. 
We shall have to examine again the almost threadbare subject 
of tenant right, which has been loudly demanded as a measure 
of simple justice, and loudly denounced as a measure of con- 
fiscation — the food of one, and the poison of others ; the safe- 
guard from revolution, and the victory of communism; the 
bugbear of the aristocrat, and the panacea of the demagogue. 
No subject of political discussion has been praised and abused 
with a greater amount of exaggeration. Whether the fault 
be chiefiy on the side of the landlords or on that of the 
tenants, it is undoubtedly a fact that the relations existing 
between these two classes in Ireland are not such as might 
be wished. This antagonism has probably grown out of a 

348 Tke Irish Exodus and Tenant Right, 

long continuance of favouritism on the part of the ruling 
powers towards one class at the expense of the other. While 
the land-owners of past generations were permitted, if not en- 
couraged, to treat the land-holders with grinding injustice, and 
while the peasant felt that from the law of the land as then 
administered he had no hope of redress, it was evident that 
there would he no limit to the extortions and tyranny of the 
one, except such as might be raised by the lawless resistance of 
the other. The difference also of religion between the gentry 
and the peasantry must not be overlooked as having been a 
material agent in creating and fostering the growth of this 
social animosity. The laws which favoured the upper at the 
expense of the lower orders had been for the most part framed 
to uphold Protestantism and to uproot Popery. The very fact 
of the upper and the lower orders holding two different reli- 
gious beliefs — the one fostered, the other persecuted, by the 
Government — was an element of antagonism peculiar to Ire- 
land. With exceptions scarcely more numerous than sufficed 
to prove the rule, the landlords were, if not sworn Orangemen, 
at least strong Protestants — in other words, good haters of 
Popery and Papists. The local administration of a one-sided 
code of laws was exclusively entrusted to the very party to 
promote whose ascendancy these laws had been specially en- 
acted. The inevitable consequence was that the peasant, to 
whom the law had never been any thing but an instrument 
of oppression, to whom the administrators of the law had 
been ever unsparing, if sometimes venal, tyrants, grew to look 
on the laws themselves, on the rulers who made them, and 
on the gentry who put them in force, as being all alike the 
undying enemies of his social as well as of his religious 

The Catholic gentry in Ireland were numerically so insigni- 
ficant a body as to be of little account in the social scheme. 
Small as were their numbers, their influence in the state was 
hardly in proportion even to their numerical strength. Confis- 
cation and persecution had not only thinned their ranks, but 
had almost entirely broken their spirit. They had for genera- 
tions suffered so much for their faith, that to be allowed to 
retain that faith in peace, along with the small remnants of 
their ancestral estates, was too often the moderate limit of their 
ambition. Kneeling before the same altar at which the peo- 
ple worshipped, the Poman Catholic gentleman was bound to 
his peasant neighbours by the strong link of a common reli- 
gious belief. One element, therefore, of the animosity that 
existed between the gentry and the people, was absent in the 
case of the Catholic squire. But persecution and insecurity 

The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right. 349 

may have made him needy ; need may have made him exacting. 
In the eyes of his half-starving tenantry, he too may have some- 
times seemed to be a tyrant. To the evicted peasant it was as 
certain destruction to be turned out of his wretched cabin and 
to be deprived of his few half-tilled acres by a Catholic landlord, 
as though the notice to quit bore the name of the most Papist- 
hating -of Orangemen. The popular good- will that the squire 
had gained by the fact of his being a Catholic was frequently out- 
weighed by that of his being a landlord as well. It was plain, 
then, that when the Irish people wanted leaders, they would be 
little likely to seek, and less likely to find them amongst the 
gentry of their own faith. When, therefore, the time had at 
length arrived for the people to make an effort for freedom, to 
whom were they to look for the guidance that, in a constitu- 
tional struggle like the one in which they were about to engage, 
must be sought in a class of men of higher intelligence and 
education than their own ? It was evident that in the Catholic 
clergy alone the popular movement could find leaders both 
willing to accept and competent to fill the position. The con- 
nections and sympathies of the Irish priesthood were almost 
exclusively with the middle and lower orders. The bad govern- 
ment of Ireland, the injustice of the religious distinctions main- 
tained in that country, the anti-Popery persecution inflicted for 
generations on its inhabitants, had fallen with more severity on 
the ministers of the persecuted faith than on any other class. 
In the days of the fiercest persecution the priest had ever stood 
by his flock. When the dying peasant sought the consolations 
of religion, the priest was ever ready to visit him, and to brave 
the dangers, and defy the penalties, with which he was threatened 
by the law if he dared to do his duty. As the priests lived for 
the people, so they lived by the people. How little soever an 
Irish peasant might possess, both his duty and his inclination 
made him happy in sharing that little with his priest. The 
common part they had so long borne in great dangers and in 
heavy sorrows had linked the bonds that bound the pastor 
to his flock more closely in Ireland than in other countries. 
When, early in the present century, persecution slowly relaxed 
its grasp, the clergy began little by little to take a share in 
the public affairs of the country. The bad feeling that existed 
between the upper and the lower orders was one that, for mis- 
taken purposes of their own, successive governments had never 
lost an opportunity of encouraging. There is always a large 
number of persons in the world whom it is easy to persuade 
that what is must be. Animosities of class against class had 
been of such long standing in Ireland, that they had grown to 
be, as it were, institutions of the country. The Catholic clergy. 

350 The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right. 

whose sympathy was altogether with the people, were of neces- 
sity often brought into public collision with the gentry. They 
and the gentry regarded every political, nay, almost every so- 
cial, question from an opposite point of view. On every subject 
their feelings, as well as their opinions, were different. It is an 
old observation, that tyranny tends to produce reciprocal hatred 
in the oppressor and the oppressed. The hatred of the tyrant 
for the slave, though it may arise from deeper and more secret 
springs of human nature, is as much the inevitable result of 
tyranny as that of the slave for the tyrant. In Ireland the 
gentry, as a body, had ever been ranged on the side of the 
oppressors, the Catholic clergy on that of the oppressed ; and 
neither party exhibited an exception to the general rule. It 
must not, however, be forgotten that amongst the Protestant 
nobility and gentr}^ of Ireland there were to be found many- 
humane, just, and truly patriotic men, who had long seen in- 
justice to the sufferers, as well as a bar to national prosperity, 
in the gross treatment to which their Catholic fellow-country- 
men had for generations been subjected. Unpopular as such 
views were amongst persons of their own order, these men were 
neither afraid nor ashamed to express an open sjonpathy with 
the Catholic party, and to cooperate actively with it, when the 
business of extorting emancipation from the Government was 
at length really taken up by the people themselves. Incal- 
culably useful, however, as the assistance of such men was in 
the struggle for freedom, and lasting as should be the recollec- 
tion of their services amongst those for whose sake they joined 
in fighting a most unpopular battle, we must nevertheless re- 
member that to the priests of Ireland, more than to any other 
class in the country, the credit is due of having achieved their 
own and their people's independence. The battle of emancipa- 
tion was a severe one ; it was fought by combatants whose hos- 
tility was of long standing ; and it was gained by that party to 
whom triumph was then a novelty. Viewing the event in its 
bearings on the political future of Ireland, one of its most re- 
markable features was the proof it gave of the enormous power 
of the people when combined in action under the guidance of 
their clergy, and with a just and desirable object to contend 
for. Popular power may have been abused in Ireland, as power 
of all kinds is ever liable to be abused. The influence of the 
Catholic priesthood may not on all occasions have been exerted 
in the manner and for the objects that a more prudent discre- 
tion and a farther-seeing policy would have recommended. But 
to err is human ; and in matters of political conduct no one lays 
claim to infallibility. 

Ireland has been not unaptly described as a huge ano- 

The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right, 351 

maly. In considering her social state it is not always easy to 
distinguish effects from causes, or causes from effects. Religion 
and politics are so mixed up together that it is often diflB.cult to 
draw the line between them. To treat of Ireland as she is 
without allusion to what she has been, would be absurd. To 
omit, in discussing her condition, all mention of religion and of 
religious differences, would be to ignore the existence of the 
source from which her principal misfortunes have sprung. 
There can be no possible doubt that almost all the present mis- 
fortunes of Ireland can be traced to past misgovernment by 
England. We should, however, be unwilling to go the length 
of saying that the continued existence of some of these mis- 
fortunes is not attributable to the Irish themselves. It is sel- 
dom, if ever, that a great public evil or a great public disorgani- 
sation exists, without there being faults on more sides than one. 
We believe that this is now the case in Ireland. On what side 
soever the preponderance of the guilt may lie, all parties in the 
country — the government, the gentry, the parsons, the priests, 
and the people — must share the blame for its present social 
condition. Their fault, we suppose, consists chiefly in this, that 
in Ireland every man attributes, and unfortunately believes 
himself right in attributing, the existence of almost every social 
grievance that can be named to the agency of any other class in 
the community rather than of that to which he himself belongs. 
The gentry censure the ineradicable lawlessness of the people, 
backed and encouraged by what they consider the self-seeking 
democratic turbulence of the priesthood. The peasantry and 
small-farming class have a vague, indefinite idea that " it is all 
the fault of England," and that under a French despotism or 
an American republic things would not be as they are. The 
priests divide the blame between the exterminating, papist- 
hating landlords and the British Government of the day, irre- 
spectively of the party that may be in power ; and they cannot 
yet bring themselves to believe in the possibility of any of the acts 
of the English Government being done bond fide for the benefit 
of Ireland. The Protestant clergy, like the gentry, find a most 
useful scapegoat in their brethren of the rival religion , forget- 
ting that the very fact of their own existence as ministers of a 
Church maintained, in defiance of right and justice, as a state 
establishment for the sole benefit of a small minority, is a stand- 
ing wrong and insult to four-fifths of the population. As to 
England, her press, and her governments, we believe that in 
the present day their chief fault lies in querulously blaming the 
discontent and mistrust of the Irish priests and people, without 
making sufficient allowance for the causes that have given rise 
to those feelings ; and, above all, in persistently ignoring the 

352 The Irish Exodics and Tenant Right, 

patent fact — a fact that must sooner or later be recognised — 
that Ireland is in truth a Catholic country, and should be treated 
as such. 

Like many other popular cries, that of "security for the 
tenant^'' has found its chief enemies amongst those who pro- 
fessed to be its warmest friends. We believe the literal and 
simply accurate definition of a tenant's right to be this, " that 
the permanent value which has been superadded to a farm 
by an outlay of the tenant's capital, skill, or labour, ought 
legally to be the tenant's property; and that, whether the 
tenant's tenure may have been by lease or at will, he ought 
to be entitled by law, at the expiration of that tenure, to re- 
cover from his landlord a just remuneration for the said out- 
lay." The late Mr. Sharman Crawford stated the principles of 
his tenant-right measure in the following words : " That all 
improvements of the soil, and all works of every description by 
means of which the annual or letting value or fee-interest of the 
premises shall be, or shall have been, increased, and which shall 
be, or shall have been, made at the cost or by the labour of the 
tenant, or purchased, or inherited by him from his predecessors, 
shall be taken to be the property of such tenant ; . . . . and that 
no person in occupation of land or premises, being tenant thereon, 
and having made improvements of the nature aforesaid, shall be 
evicted therefrom unless he shall first have received from his 
landlord, or from the incoming tenant, fair compensation for all 
labour and capital expended in improvements, of the nature 
hereinbefore stated, and which the law shall declare to be the 
property of the tenant." JSTo doubt the foregoing definitions 
fall far short of many of the claims for legislative interference 
that have, from time to time, and from various quarters, been 
urged on the tenant's behalf; but it would be difficult to prove 
that the claim as originally set up amounted to more than this. 
Moreover, almost every advocate of tenant right with whom we 
have discussed the question, when closely pressed as to what 
protection the legislature could be expected to give the tenant, 
has ended by narrowing to this compass opinions that may pos- 
sibly have started from a principle involving little less than 

Now, supposing the demand for legislative interference 
between landlord and tenant never to have gone further than 
the foregoing definitions would warrant, a reasonable or honest 
man could hardly object to such legislation being carried into 
effect. The justice of the principle has been indeed acknow- 
ledged by three successive administrations, which have intro- 
duced into Parliament bills founded on and in accordance with 
it. It is not our wish to impugn the motives of those who 

The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right, S^o 

opposed these measures on the plea of their not being sufficiently- 
liberal to the tenant ; but it is an undoubted fact that it was a 
section of the popular party and their representatives, and not 
the British House of Commons, that was and is accountable for 
the absence, during the last ten years, of at least a moderate 
legislative protection to the industrious and improving tenant. 
Some of those who professed to advocate the tenant's cause^ both 
in Ireland and in Parliament, made on his behalf demands of 
such a nature that to have acceded to them would have been — 
at any rate, according to English notions — to annihilate the 
rights of property. One would have thought it must be self- 
evident — if Ireland and England are to receive their laws 
from the same Parliament — that to make " perpetual fixity of 
tenure," and " compulsory valuation of land,' 'leading principles 
in the ultimatum of the tenant-right party, was practically to 
prevent any settlement whatever of the tenant-right question 
by the British House of Commons.^ 

Among the mischievous results of demanding a recognition of 
these impracticable principles as the right of the tenant, has been 
the creating of false notions, and the raising of delusive hopes, 
in the minds of the Irish tenantr j^. They were told, with truth, 
that it was an injustice for any man to have the power of eject- 
ing a tenant from his farm, and appropriating its increased 
value, without any repayment for his outlay, whether of labour 
or capital, by which that increase of value had been created. 
"With apt and interested scholars it was no difficult matter to 
carry this teaching a little further. To dispossess an improving 
tenant without fair compensation was an admitted injustice. 
Strictly speaking, the injustice lay in the want of compensation ; 
but the real practical injury to the tenant was the fact of being- 

]^ow the best friends of the Irish tenant must allow that 
there are fewer of the small land-holders who (in the sense that 
any tenant-right bill could recognise) have hitherto been im- 
proving tenants than there are of the reverse. Any legislation, 
therefore, that merely gave the tenant a property in his bona 
fide improvements could be a boon, at the present moment, only 

5 Theories of this nature received a high philosophical sanction from the 
writings of Mr. J. S. Mill. His proposed remedy for the agrarian difficulties of 
Ireland, viz. that " the whole of her land should be made by Act of Parliament 
the property of the occupiers, subject to the rent then paid, as a fixed rent- 
charge," was in those days often quoted. Even now he is occasionally cited as 
an authority by the very few persons who still hold these generally exploded 
opinions, and who either have not seen or ignore the practical recantation of 
them which Mr. Mill has made in his edition of 1862, where he says that " Ire- 
land no longer requires what are called heroic remedies ;" and again, " that the 
opinions he expressed before 1856 he now feels are no longer susceptible of 
practical application" (fifth edition, p. 407). 

354 The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right. 

to tlie minority of the tenant class. The larger number of the 
cottiers and small farmers, not having made any improvements, 
would be unaffected by the protecting law, and would be as 
liable as ever to unrecompensed eviction. Can it then be a 
matter of surprise that, when certain of the popular leaders in 
Ireland promulgated the doctrine that " the land was made for 
those who live on it,'* they found in that class many willing dis- 
ciples ? Is it wonderful that, in a country where eviction means 
either perpetual expatriation or perpetual pauperism, a law could 
easily be represented as being unjust which left in the hands of 
an often hostile minority an almost irresponsible power over 
every thing short of the very existence of their fellow-men ? We 
are not maintaining that these views are just, or that any legis- 
lation founded on them is either possible or to be desired ; but we 
cannot discuss the practicability of any settlement of the land- 
question without bearing in mind their existence. It must also 
be remembered that such theories as to the rights of property, 
however fallacious, are not peculiarly Irish ; and that it is not 
many years since a party who held somewhat similar views was 
so numerous and so violent in England as to threaten the peace 
of London. Now, although it may not be surprising that these 
ideas became popular amongst a certain interested class in Ire- 
land, it seems evident that no reasonable man could expect them 
to be recognised by the legislature. If any English or Scottish 
land-holder were to start such a theory as that of fixity of tenure, 
he would be scouted even by his own class as a revolutionist. 

Leaving, therefore, the Irish parliamentary representatives 
altogether out of consideration, is it not plain that the promul- 
gation of such views by the advocates of the Irish tenant can 
have no other effect than to disgust the British portion of Par- 
liament with the whole question ? The House of Commons has 
frequently shown great willingness, not only to discuss" the 
reasonable demands of the Irish tenant, but to legislate in his 
favour. But when it sees the original demand of " compensa- 
tion for improvements" (to which no honest man could object) 
lost, as it were, amongst a host of claims founded on principles 
totally adverse to all received notions of the rights of property, 
it feels disposed to look on the entire agitation as a sham, and 
to place it on the already well-filled shelf of forgotten, or soon 
to be forgotten, Irish grievances. 

There are amongst those who have studied this question 
some who think that the tenant-right custom of Ulster would, 
if extended to, and legally enforced in, the south and west of 
Ireland, be in itself a satisfactory and a sufficient solution of 
the land-question. The correctness of this view is by no means 
obvious. The Ulster custom no doubt originated in the idea of 

The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right, 355 

allowing the outgoing to receive from the incoming tenant the 
value of the unexhausted improvements made by the one, and 
about to be enjoyed by the otljjer. It was in principle merely 
an arrangement to compensate a departing tenant for improve- 
ments. As such it was perfectly just and fair. But in its practi- 
cal working, there arise cases without number where no improve- 
ments have been made during a tenancy, and yet where the right 
to "sell his good-wiir* is claimed by, and often allowed to, the 
outgoing tenant. In all these cases it is evident that the tenant 
has no just claim whatever to this indulgence ; and, if he make 
such a claim, he is in truth asking for what is his landlord's and 
not his. Where this tenant-right custom is in force, a tenant-at- 
will holding, let us say, ten acres at a pound an acre, and never 
having done any thing to add permanently to its value, considers 
himself hardly used if his landlord refuses him permission to dis- 
pose of his interest. He knows that, if he were allowed to sell, 
he would probably get 501. or 60?., perhaps 100/. for it, such 
sums being not at all unfrequently paid for the mere possession 
of small farms let at an ordinary rent and from year to year. 
He proclaims this fact to his landlord, and bases on it his 
claim for what he (of course incorrectly) calls tenant-right. 
When doing this, he seems entirely to forget that the only 
reasonable deduction to be drawn from his case is, that the 
farm he holds at ten pounds a year is considered by a certain 
number of his neighbours to be worth twelve or fifteen. It is 
both a remarkable and unfortunate peculiarity of these dealings, 
that when the small farmers make these bargains there is too 
little consideration whether the land is in a good or in an ex- 
hausted state. It frequently occurs that the possession of a 
farm completely run out will fetch as large a price as that of 
a farm of equal size in reasonably good condition. This is 
unfortunate in several respects. While, on the one hand, 
the custom of allowing a tenant, when leaving a farm held 
at will, to dispose of the increased value created by his own 
labour or capital, would be a strong inducement to exertion, 
on the other hand, the certainty that even if his land deterio- 
rates in value during his tenancy he will be equally sure not 
to be a pauper when leaving it, is a great temptation to idle- 
ness. Moreover, this too common perversion of the tenant-right 
principle is open to the grave objection that it impoverishes 
the incoming tenant, and by lessening his capital lessens his 
chances of working his farm at a profit. Again, it must be re- 
membered that if the tenant-right custom of Ulster were to be 
now extended to, and enforced in, the south and west of Ire- 
land — if every tenant in Leinster, Munster, and Connaught were 
to become legally entitled to dispose of his good-will to the 
VOL. IV. h h 

356 The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right, 

highest bidder — probably one-half of these tenants would be 
acquiring a property in that to which the}'- had no just claim, 
inasmuch as at least one-half of the farms in Ireland have 
changed hands within the last twenty-five years, and their 
actual occupiers neither built the houses thej' live in, nor in- 
herited nor purchased them from their predecessors. There 
is yet another argument against allowing the indiscriminate 
privilege of selling the good-will of farms. It is the likelihood, 
in a country still in a state of transition, of jeopardising the 
just rights of the land-owners. We will suppose a tenant to 
have purchased for twenty pounds the good-will of a farm, 
either in a remote district, or during a period of agricultural 
depression, subject to a rent which (time and place being 
considered) was its fair letting value at the time. He has 
gone on for a dozen years in the usual slovenly agricultural 
fashion of his neighbourhood — one year of potatoes and three 
years of oats — the land at the end of the time being, so far as 
his labour or exertion is concerned, not a whit better than 
when he took it. But during the course of this dozen years 
the enterprise of the local proprietors has caused a railway to 
penetrate into this remote district ; and markets that were 
inaccessible to its inhabitants are brought to their doors. Or 
the times have improved; potatoes are no longer blighted; 
distemper has ceased to decimate the pigs. In a word, the 
value of the possession is increased ; the " good-will" that then 
sold for twenty pounds would now sell for a hundred. These 
changes have taken place, on the hypothesis, from the mere 
march of time, and through the force of circumstances entirely 
uncontrolled by the tenant. He can in justice urge no claim 
to benefit by them; and yet that "custom" which "tends to 
make the proprietor a mere rent- charger on his estate*^ will 
certainly be quoted by the tenant in bar of his landlord's just 
rights. From all these considerations it appears that, while 
the settlement of the land- difficulty on the principle of " com- 
pensation for improvement" is a matter of urgent importance, 
the universal acceptance of the Ulster tenant-right custom, as 
it exists in practice as distinct from theory, would be little real 
benefit to either the owners or the occupiers of land in Ireland. 
In the introduction to a very valuable compilation of Papers, 
Letters, and Speeches on the Irish Land- Question, lately pub- 
lished by Mr. Sergeant Shee (now Mr. Justice Shee), the follow- 
ing suggestive remarks occur : " Now that all have become wiser 
by experience, a government assured of the undivided support 
of the Irish Liberal representation might not, on the demand of 
the Irish people, be indisposed to resume, and might see its duty 
and interest in resuming, a well-drawn unassailable bill, perfect 

The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right, 357 

us a legal instrument in all its parts, to which the House of 
Commons on the report of a Select Committee, the most emi- 
nent statesmen and jurisconsults on both sides of the House, 
three successive governments, and many, as I had the means 
of knowing, of the more considerable Anglo-Irish proprietors 
and their agents, have already set the seal of their approval." 
In our opinion, it rests mainly with the leaders of the popular 
party in Ireland whether a bill destined to better the condition 
of the improving tenant can be carried through Parliament or 
not. It will be necessary, to begin with, that those who demand 
legislation should show themselves to be really in earnest. To 
this end they must, in the first place, define clearly and precisely 
what it is they want ; and they must confine their demands to 
what, in all reasonable probability, a British House of Commons 
maybe persuaded that it would be just to grant. Having deter- 
mined on a fixed course of action with regard to this question, 
they will have to see that their representatives in Parliament 
honestly follow that course. At home they will have to use all 
the influence that can be brought to bear on the people, to undo 
the mischief that has unfortunately been done by the discussion 
of those extravagant theories which have been mixed up with 
the tenant-right question. Of these requisites the last will, we 
fear, be found the most difficult of attainment. Its necessity 
is evident ; for unless it can be shown that reasonable legis- 
lation is likely to put a stop to querulous agitation, a great 
inducement to statesmen to take up the matter will be want- 
ing. Of its difficulty, it requires a very slight knowledge of 
human nature to be aware. Men are ever ready enough to 
believe that their misfortunes are caused by others rather than 
by themselves ; and the long-cherished belief in the existence 
of a grievance is always hard to dispel. The Irish tenantry 
have been taught to believe that their position as to their 
legal rights is far worse than that of the tenant class in Eng- 
land; that the law which in England protects, in Ireland 
oppresses, the tenant ; that while in England he is safe from 
capricious eviction, in Ireland he is daily liable to it ; that 
whilst the Irish landlord is a rack-renting tyrant, his English 
brother is a mild, humane, disinterested, easy-going man, satis- 
fied with a very moderate rent for his land, and ever burning 
with anxiety to build barns, byres, and dwelling-houses, at his 
own expense, and solely for the benefit of his much-loved tenant. 
Now no one, knowing the two countries, requires to be told 
that these representations are at least very highly coloured. 
It is well known that, though the landlord in England may 
build the farmhouses and offices in the first instance, and may 
sometimes (according to the custom of the district where his 

358 The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right. 

property lies) aid in keeping them in repair, while in Ireland 
the landlord has hitherto usually left these things to be done 
by the tenant, yet the English proprietor receives an ample 
equivalent in the much higher rent that his farms produce 
than that at which land of the same intrinsic value is gener- 
ally let in Ireland.^ Nothing can be more fallacious than the 
idea that the j^ower of e\acting an improving tenant in Ireland 
is greater than it is in England, or that the English tenant 
class are in practice perfectly free from the capricious exercise 
of it by their landlords. A very cursory reference to the evi- 
dence taken before the Agricultural Customs Committee of the 
House of Commons in 1848 will suffice to show that tenants' 
grievances are not peculiar to Ireland. A perusal of the Report 
of that Committee may also be not without its value to those 
who are fond of representing the absence of tenant-right legis- 
lation for Ireland as a part and parcel of the anti-Irish policy 
of England. For while the evidence taken before the Com- 
mittee goes to show, almost without contradiction, that some 
legislative interference between owners and occupiers in Eng- 
land is much desired by the latter, and although very cogent 
arguments were adduced by various witnesses in support 
of that view, yet the House of Commons declined to inter- 
fere in England, while, as we have before stated, successive 
governments have shown their willingness to meet the Irish 
tenant at least half-way in his demands for legislative protec- 
tion. The discussion raised in the Times within the last few 
months by the able letters of " A Practical Farmer,^' and the 
prominence lately given to views somewhat similar to his at 
the meetings of local farming societies in the Yale of Evesham 
and several other English districts, show that the desire for 
legislation between landlord and tenant is still alive amongst 
the farming classes in this country. 

The circumstance we have mentioned with regard to the 
wide-spread desire for a tenant-right bill for England amongst 
English tenants-at-will, and the fact of Parliament having 

^ This statement may surprise some of our Irish readers ; but we can never- 
theless assure them of its correctness. People talking loudly about English and 
Irislx rents arc liable to forget the great difference between the area of an acre in 
England and an acre in Ireland, and the consequent fact that 25s. per acre in 
England means 21. per acre in Ireland. Now 2 Is. -would be a low acreablc aver- 
age rent for medium land in England, while 35.v. would be a decidedly high one 
for medium land in Ireland; Again, it must be remembered that in England, as 
a rule, the tithe and the entire poor-rate are paid by the tenant ; while iu Ireland 
the entire tithe and half the poor-rate are paid by the landlord. We should be 
below the mark in putting these two items at less than7i per cent on the aver- 
age Irish rental, while from 5 to 7 per cent is allowed to be an ample annual 
deduction for farmstead maintenance, repairs, and insurance on the best-managed 
estates in England* 

The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right, 359 

declined to grant their prayer, althougli tliey may be proofs 
that, in this matter at least, Ireland has not been treated with 
less consideration than England, must not be looked on as ar- 
guments against the justice of the Irish tenant's demand for 
legislative interference on his behalf. It may be perfectly true 
that land of the same intrinsic value lets for less rent in Ire- 
land than in England, partly in consequence of the necessary 
buildings being erected and maintained by the landlord in the 
latter country, and by the tenant in the former. Still, as the 
law does not in either case give the tenant any security for an 
outlay of his capital, it is evident that the hardship he suffers 
must be greater where it is not the general custom for the 
landlord to erect the usual farmhouses and offices, than where 
it is the custom. The Irish tenant, therefore, is substantially 
injured by a state of the law v/hich gives him no legal security 
for his outlay of labour or capital in those impro\'ements of a 
permanent nature which, according to the general custom of 
the country, must be made by him, if made at all. Possibly 
the injury he suffers may at times have been exaggerated, and 
its discussion may have been made a vehicle for attacks on 
Saxon rule and Saxon rulers, the acrimony of which may have 
gone far to embitter party feelings on the subject ; but never- 
theless the grievance remains. Successive governments have 
admitted the justice, if not the necessity, of a change in the 
law ; and yet the law is still unchanged.''' An acknowledged 
injustice to occupiers of land is allowed to remain unheeded 
in the midst of a population who live by the land alone, and 
who are prone enough to make the most of grievances for 
which England can in any way be made accountable. Is it 
wise or statesmanlike to treat the demand for that which has 
been admitted to be simple justice with the supercilious con- 
tempt with which, in a late session of Parliament, the men- 
tion of tenant-right legislation was met by the present Chief 
Secretary for Ireland ? Should it not rather be the policy of 
the government, if a superstructure of imaginary grievance has 

' We are of course aware that Mr. Cardwell's bill was intended to meet, 
and is, we believe, supposed by the present Chief Secretary for Ireland to have 
sufficiently met, the needs of the Irish tenant. But a law which has been three 
years on the statute-book, and of which nevertheless advantage has been taken 
in but one solitary instance, can hardly be seriously spoken of as a practical 
remedy for this long-admitted evil. As Judge Shee says in the work already 
quoted, •' It is disheartening to reflect that . . . the government of a country 
in which six millions of British subjects are mainly dependent on agriculture, 
. . . and iu which the indispensable instrumenta of successlul cultivation are 
provided at the expense of the tenant, should not have influence enough to 
carry to the foot of the throne a law holding out to him any better encourage- 
ment to employ his labour and capital in a manner so profitable . . . than an 
annuity for such portion of a term of twenty-five years as may be unexpired at 
his eviction of 7/. 2*. for every 100/. worth of improvement." 

360 The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right, 

been raised on t"he foundation of a substantial wrong, to over- 
tbrow the imaginary, by removing the substantial, injustice? 

It may perbaps be doubted whether the passing of a tenant- 
right bill would materially affect the existence of agrarian 
crime in Ireland. It is certainly both possible and probable 
that no mere law would immediately have that effect ; but it 
is also certain that the crimes in question never will be put 
down until a fair measure of tenant right has been passed. 
It is true that, with a tenant-right bill, our hopes may be 
disappointed; but, without it, they certainly must be. The 
ultimate destiny of agrarianism will mainly depend on two 
contingencies: first, whether the leaders of the tenant-right 
agitation will agree in good faith to accept as a full measure of 
justice a bill founded on the principles of Mr. Sharman Craw- 
ford, to which a formal adhesion was given by the successive 
ministries of Lord Derby, Lord Aberdeen, and Lord Palmer- 
ston ; and secondly, whether, having accepted such a measure, 
they will honestly endeavour, as a reasonable sequel to it, to 
wean the minds of the people from that querulous bitterness 
that marks their present feelings towards the owners of land. 
We have heard an Irish landlord described by a peasant, with 
something of that peculiar poetry of expression that seems na- 
tural to the Celtic tone of thought, as *' the m^n for whom the 
grass grows." This expression is eminentlj^ characteristic of 
the feeling with which in Ireland the man who tills the soil 
has been taught to regard the man who owns it. " You do 
nothing — I do all ; and yet you get the lion-'s share of the 
profits !" As long as this feeling survives, so long will there 
still be danger of recurring agrarian outrage. Now there are 
some who believe this feeling to be ineradicable. We are not 
of the number. We conceive that the future peacefulness of 
Ireland will depend on the possibility of bringing public opi- 
nion, which now seems to sympathise with agrarian crime, into 
unmistakeable opposition to it. This change will be extremely 
difficult to produce ; but there is no reason to despair as to its 
possibility. It is but a few years since the Irish were perhaps 
the most drunken nation in Europe. In those days, a man who 
went home sober from fair or market was looked on as having 
almost disgraced his manhood. Public opinion was then on the 
side of the drunkard ; or, at least, it was not against him. Yet 
the labours of one earnest man completely altered the character 
of Ireland in this respect. Any one who, in 1838, had ven- 
tured to foretell that in five years drunkenness would be almost 
unknown, would have been looked on as a wild enthusiast ; yet 
such was the case in 1843. It is not impossible to eradicate 
agrarian crime, any more than it was impossible to eradicate 

The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right, 361 

drunkenness ; but before this can be done, it must be clearly, 
boldly, unmistakeably shown that a spirit of reformation — a 
spirit similar in its earnestness to that which animated Father 
Mathew — animates all the political leaders of the Irisb people. 
And the first and most needful step towards arousing a spirit 
that would inculcate obedience to the law and a reverence for 
justice, is so to legislate that law and justice may be one. 

Whenever the subject of Irish crime is under discussion, 
great stress is always laid, and with much reason, on the dis- 
heartening difficulty of obtaining evidence against criminals, and 
more particularly against the perpetrators of agrarian outrages. 
For this cause, this kind of crime sets all reasoning derived from 
the means of repressing crime in other countries completely at 
fault. Various causes have helped to produce this peculiarity. 
Of these the chief is distrust — a chronic and universal distrust. 
In Ireland men have no confidence in their neighbours. Ca- 
tholics, Protestants, landlords, tenants, employers, labourers, — 
all distrust one another. But while to a considerable extent 
this feeling is common to all classes, amongst the peasantry 
it goes deepest and reaches farthest. Long nsed to sufier from 
deceit and oppression, they can hardly bring themselves to 
believe that any one with whom they have dealings is acting 
entirely without guile, or saying neither more nor less than he 
means. "Divide et impera^^ — the fatal maxim of generations 
of British statesmen — has been the motto of the policy which 
has produced this almost universal evil. To maintain the 
unjust ascendancy of one class and party, all others have been, 
according to the changing circumstances of the hour, op- 
pressed or flattered, tyrannised over or cajoled. Such a training 
could have but one result. When we reflect that not a genera- 
tion has passed away since the habitual treatment of the Irish 
people by England was worse than that of a slave by his master, 
we can scarcely be astonished if, in the present day, the Irish 
character retain some of the peculiar traits that are the almost 
inevitable results of long-continued oppression. It is hard to 
expect strict truthfulness or manly independence from the sons 
of men to whom the law of the land held out for years the 
strongest inducements to domestic treachery, and whom it pun- 
ished with unsparing cruelty if they dared to follow the dictates 
of their conscience. It is scarcely reasonable to look for sincere 
respect for the law, and confidence in its administrators, amongst 
a people within whose own memory a portion of the penal code 
was still in force. To the peasant of to-day the law declares it 
to be a crime to harbour or protect the perpetrator of agrarian 
crime. To the father of that peasant the law equally declared 
it to be a crime to harbour or protect the Catholic priest. In 

S62 The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right, 

these days the most fanatical bigot dares not place the two on 
the same level ; but the peasant cannot yet have forgotten that 
the law he is expected to reverence has dared to do so. 

It is true that the British statute-book is no longer disgraced 
by the existence of these iniquitous laws. It may be also true 
that the spirit from which they had their origin has died out 
amongst most men of intellect and education, and is, if not dead, 
at least dormant in the masses. But it is equally true that the 
recollection of the days of persecution is still vivid in the mind 
of the Irish Catholic. Such a recollection can only be obliterated 
by a steady course of just, liberal, and even indulgent rule, 
patiently and hopefully persevered in, till, whether within a few 
years as we trust, or in a longer period as is possible, it reaps 
its reward. It can hardly be expected that a quarter of a cen- 
tury of moderately just government can wipe out the moral 
stains left on the national character by three centuries of cease- 
less persecution. There is unfortunately a large party of Irish- 
men which still, even in these days, refuses to believe that the 
feeling of England towards Ireland has undergone any real 
change since the days when the penal laws were in force, and 
which perpetually mistrusts the Irish policy of all English 
governments, merely because it is their Irish policy. The exist- 
ence of such a feeling is a great misfortune for Ireland ; if for 
no other reason, yet for one that may fairly have some weight 
with even the most anti-Saxon of Irish patriots — the more so 
perhaps as it is not very flattering to England. It is this: that 
in these days no party, however wrong-headed, any longer pre- 
tends that it is the interest of England to oppress Ireland. That 
idea was once current ; and Ireland was oppressed accordingly. 
But now that it is admitted to be the interest of England to treat 
Ireland with justice, it is only consequent to suppose that Ireland 
will be so treated. Benefits conferred from such a motive may 
perhaps have no claim to a return of gratitude ; but they are 
none the less benefits ; and it is a mistaken policy to treat them 
as though they were injuries. In referring, therefore, as we 
have done, to the past history of Ireland, and in tracing to that 
source the chief evils from which she now suffers, we are far 
from being actuated by any desire to make her past misgovern- 
ment by England unduly prominent, or to encourage an anti- 
English feeling amongst Irishmen. Our object has rather 
been to prevent Englishmen from forgetting what the anti- 
Irish tirades of the English press make it evident that some 
amongst us have forgotten, — that to the unjust folly of our own 
forefathers may be mainly attributed the existence of those Irish 
faults which we in this country are now the loudest and least 
sparing in condemning. The best and happiest change that 

The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right, 'r^Qo 

could befall both, nations would be, that Irishmen should cease 
to remember tlie past history of their country, and that Eng- 
lishmen should resolve never to forget it. 

Till agrarian crime is uprooted, Ireland will never be tho- 
roughly prosperous ; and it never will be uprooted until the tone 
of Irish, feeling towards England undergoes a radical improve- 
ment. Towards effecting this, the first and most essential change 
must be for the English Government to show unmistakeably that 
they are determined to treat Irishmen and Englishmen accord- 
ing to the same measure of evenhanded justice. They must 
make it plain to Irishmen of every creed and every party that 
for the future there are to be no religious or party tests recog- 
nised in the administration of Ireland; and that all Irish- 
men, whether Protestants or Catholics, are in truth — and not in 
name only — to enjoy civil and religious liberty. IN'ow, so long 
as the Catholics of Ireland have to support their own Church 
and four-fifths of the Established Church as well, no man can 
reasonably maintain that the Protestant and the Catholic are 
equal in the eye of the law. While the Catholic demand for 
freedom of education is contemptuously refused, it cannot be 
said that there is religious equality amongst Irishmen. ' A 
principle which the legislature has admitted to be just for the 
Catholics of England cannot possibly be unjust for the Catho- 
lics of Ireland. 

There are plenty of people who will tell us that there is 
no use in trying to conciliate the Irish priesthood or the Irish 
people, and that disloyalty and hatred of British rule have too 
firm a hold on their minds ever to be eradicated. We do not be- 
lieve that it is so. But if we did believe it we would answer, 
in the words of Mr. Goldwin Smith, that " when the Pro- 
testants complained of the Catholic clergy as being rebels by 
nature, it was assuredly they that had done their best to make 
them so;'' and again that, *' if there be any disaffection to the 
state among the Catholics of Ireland, it is because the state 
still gives them just grounds for disaffection." In Canada the 
Catholic hierarchy and clergy, many of them Irishmen, are con- 
tented citizens and loyal subjects. Their brethren in Ireland 
might be, and in good time we trust will be, the same. At any 
rate, it is only reasonable to give a fair trial before final con- 
demnation ; and that fair trial the Catholics of Ireland have 
not yet had. So long as the Church of the minority is sup- 
ported by the majority, and facilities for education of which 
they can conscientiously avail themselves are granted to the 
Protestant and Presbyterian and refused to the Catholic, it is 
false to say that all means have been tried to pacify Ireland. 
When the grant of a charter to the Catholic University has 

36if The Irish Exodus and Tenant Right. 

given to Irish Catholics similar educational facilities to those 
found by Protestants in Trinity College, Dublin, and in the 
Queen^s University ; when tenants have been secured by law 
in the possession of what politicians of all parties have admitted 
to be their just right ; when the Protestant Church Establish- 
ment has ceased to iusult the Catholics of Ireland, and her reve- 
nues have been allotted either to the support of the poor or to 
some other object from which all classes and all creeds can 
(without a possibility of danger to their complete independ- 
ence) derive a benefit proportionate to their numbers ; — when 
these legislative remedies have been tried, and tried in vain, it 
will be quite time enough to despair of the future of Ireland. 
If an unmistakeable inclination to legislate for Ireland in this 
spirit were shown by the Government ; if it were made clear 
to the Irish Catholic that neither his birth nor his creed is for 
the future to be any bar to his perfect social equality with his 
British fellow-subjects ; if the childish insult cast on the Ca- 
tholic hierarchy and priesthood by the extension of the Eccle- 
siastical Titles Bill to Ireland were atoned for, and a reasonable 
recognition were made by Government of their proper status 
and dignity as ministers of the people's Church ; — if all these 
things were done, Ireland in the next ten years would make 
rapid strides in peacefulness, civilisation, and general prospe- 
rity. Before, however, this desirable consummation can be 
looked for, politicians of every class must resolve to forget the 
prejudices of the past. Until all parties consent to approach 
the discussion of Irish politics with less of bitterness and more 
of reasonable concession to the feelings, and even to the preju- 
dices, of others than is at present the case, the questions re- 
quiring settlement will remain unsettled, and the social evils 
arising out of their existence will continue to retard the pros- 
perity and to disgrace the character of the country. 

[ 365 ] 


Although there is scarcely a politician now who does not con- 
sider himself competent to give a very decided judgment on the 
dispute between Denmark and the Duchies, it is but a few 
months ago that the question was looked on as so intricate and 
complicated that those who discussed it in speeches and in the 
press were not in the least ashamed to confess that they did not 
understand it. At first a mere captatio benevolentice, the acknow- 
ledgment passed into an expression of unpardonable frivolity as, 
day after day, it became more obvious that the peace of Europe 
was threatened by the growing excitement in Germany. x\nd 
yet it must be admitted that the controversy is one which can- 
not be solved by even the fullest acquaintance with its legal 
points. The maxim fiat justitia ruat coelum is as unpractical in 
this as in other great conjunctures of European politics ; and 
there is a sense, therefore, in which we must allow that men are 
justified in forming an opinion on the general question without 
having mastered all the details. But the ultimate consequences 
of the dispute bear so decisively on many questions in which 
Germany and England have a common interest, that it is an evil 
of the deepest gravity for the two nations to approach each other, 
at the very opening of it, under the influence of prejudices and 

It is impossible to judge the question honestly or justly 
without knowing the character and condition of the parties that 
divide opinion in Germany. We need not now discuss the fami- 
liar question of the claims of Schles wig- Hoist ein, or the several 
views on it that are current among the Germans, or the innu- 
merable solutions of it that have been proposed. It is of greater 
practical importance to enquire into the state of the different 
German parties at the moment when the death of King Frede- 
rick of Denmark suddenly brought the conflict on them, and 
into the manner in which they received, and were affected by, 
that event. Of course, it is to be understood that in speaking 
of " parties^' we mean to indicate not only the various sections of 
opinion among the educated classes, but also those larger political 
groups which include the governments of the several states. 

After the first momentary unanimity, the Schleswig-Holstein 
question appears to have increased, instead of diminishing, the 
dissensions of Germany. All the ideas of German politics are 
in a state of fermentation. Revolution and Legitimacy, the Con- 
federation and the Great Powers, the triple league, the Con- 

366 The Sclileswig-Holstebi Movement hi Germaiiy, 

federation of the Rhine, and the Hepublic, are advocated in the 
press, and invoked as the true solution of all existing problems. 
This shows that the position of the Duchies is not merely one of 
the qnestions which Germany has to work out, but is, in a sense, 
the German question itself All Europe is pervaded by the feel- 
ing that Sehleswig-Holstein involves Germany — that the crisis 
embraces the whole country, from the North Sea to the Alps. 
The Pentarchy, which, by reducing Germany to a geographical 
expression, and making her the passive centre of European poli- 
tics, was enabled to deal injustice to nations, lies shattered in 
pieces. It has fallen not by the blows of the Germans, but by 
its own fault. Through many errors and repeated failures Ger- 
many has long striven to become the active centre of Europe ; 
and the nations that have hitherto been supreme naturally put 
forth their power to resist claims which would deprive them 
of their accustomed influence. Despotic France, revolutionary 
Italy, Eussia whose grasp of Poland could not be maintained 
in presence of a united Germany — all have the same interest, 
though from different motives, in thwarting the efforts of Ger- 
many to become united, powerful, and active. The opposition 
of this interest is quite legitimate from the point of view of the 
several nations. But so, on the other hand, from their own 
point of view, is the common resolve of all parties in Germany 
to accomplish the work of creating a great national power. And 
this work they have begun to execute with all the resources at 
their command. 

When the scheme of Federal reform had been frustrated by 
Prussia, at the end of last summer, a disintegration of the great 
parties immediately began. If it had continued, it would pro- 
bably have carried Germany back to thoso minute local discus- 
sions between the various governments and their subjects which 
formerly neutralised the force and energy of the nation. It 
would have given fresh prominence to the agitation and con- 
spiracies of demagogues ; and these movements, in spite of their 
national aim, would have injured the national cause, just as the 
separatist resistance of Prussia prevented the execution of the 
reforms which Austria and the other states had prepared. But 
the evil was arrested by the speech of Napoleon III. on the 5th 
of November, and the death of King Frederick of Denmark on 
the 15th. The announcement that French supremacy was to 
supersede the balance of the five great powers, and the danger 
lest a new Alsace should be severed from Germany for ever, at 
once awoke the whole German nation to the consciousness that 
the time had come to abandon its passive helplessness, and to 
unite in a combined action of princes and people. 

This consciousness was not the work or the idea of any party; 

The Schlesivig-Holstein Movement in Germany, 367 

it was the public sense and instinct of the nation. No one who 
knows Germany can doubt that the movement is one of intense 
depth and earnestness — a national upheaving, and not merely a 
great party measure. The different parties, it is true^ have sinc(^ 
endeavoured to obtain the control of this vast power, and to fill 
their own sails with the strong wind of the public sentiment; but 
they did nothing to raise it. And we shall see, as we proceed, 
whether their interference did not rather enhance the danger that 
the aspirations of Germany would still remain unsatisfied. 

When a nation is impelled by some resistless force to the 
accomplishment of a long-neglected purpose, there are always 
men, or combinations of men, who press on beyond it, or who 
withstand it, covering their own objects by an exaggerated pro- 
fession of zeal in the nev/ cause. Cowardice, indolence, narrow- 
ness, and the dread of all energetic action, for a time stand in 
the way, especially among a people so little used to general 
politics as the Germans. There have been such symptoms in the 
present movement. Unquestionably the new phase into which 
the death of King Frederick brought the Schleswig-Holstein 
question came upon Germany by surprise, though every politician 
knew that sooner or later it must recur in that very form. But 
the position of aftairs was soon understood; and instead of 
waiting, after their ancient custom, for their governments to take 
the initiative, and losing the result in disputing about the end, 
and the manner, and the means, the Germans resolutely cast 
aside all secondary interests, and concentrated their activity on 
one distinct object — to reject the treaty of London, and its obli- 
gations for Germany, and to obtain the independence of the 
Duchies under their native sovereign. 

It is not our intention to examine the reception which this 
clear and definite programme encountered in Europe. We are 
dealing only with the internal history of Germany under the 
influence of the new phase of the Schleswig-Holstein question. 
The wish of the German people was to aim exclusively at the 
independence of the now emancipated Duchies, and at their union 
with Germany. But Austria and Prussia saw that the literal 
adoption of this policy would be a challenge to all Europe, and 
would surrender the principle of that influence which their own 
position in Europe enabled them to exercise on the politics of the 
Confederation. Their unwillingness to sacrifice this influence to 
a sudden storm of public opinion is as reasonable as their resolu- 
tion not to pledge themselves to a European war, which they 
would have to plunge into without preparation, and the burden 
of which would fall more particularly on them, since they would 
be held responsible for its occurrence. They can neither identify 
themselves entirely with the German nation, nor live separated 

368 The Schleswig-Holstein Movement in Germany, 

from it. When the present ag;itation began, its national character 
was but dimly understood by several of the smaller governments 
which have since — rather from animosity to the allied powers 
than from motives of patriotism — become the champions of the 
most extreme demands. But the truth was at once perceived at 
Berlin, and still more at Vienna ; and neither Austria nor Prussia 
had any interest in repressing or opposing the movement. 

Let us look for a moment at the state of the Federal system 
at the time when King Frederick of Denmark died. For many 
years Prussia had treated it as hopeless and untenable ; and she 
had accordingly done every thing in her power to baffle the action 
and neutralise the authority of the Bund. To the outer world 
she presented it as a mere dependency of her own ; and she had 
laboured to prevent the accomplishment of any reforms, in order 
that nothing might qualify the contempt in which she wished it 
to be held at home. Matters had become worse since the meet- 
ing of the sovereigns at Frankfort. From that time Prussia had 
been in open opposition to the Confederation, and to every 
scheme of reform based on its existing laws. In many vexatious 
ways she had prevented the success of the reformers. But she 
had neither made any separate proposal of her own, nor moved 
any amendment to the act which was passed at Frankfort, lest 
by so doing she should implicitly recognise the fundamental idea 
of the Federal system — the equal rights of all the Confederates. 
Austria, on the other hand, had endeavoured to reconcile this 
idea with the necessary consideration for the actual inequality 
of power between the several states. At the Frankfort meeting 
the assent of all the smaller states, except some vassals of Prussia, 
had been given to the Austrian reform, on the assumption that 
the sacrifice of sovereign independence, which Austria proposed 
in favour of the Federal power, was every where sincerely meant. 
Austria was commissioned to overcome the resistance of Prussia 
by means of a compromise. But Prussia insisted on claiming for 
the two great powers a veto in all matters of war or peace; and this 
veto, if adopted, would have destroyed the Federal principle, by 
sanctioning an Austrian and Prussian supremacy, dividing Ger- 
many between those powers, and realising what is known as the 
policy of the Main frontier. Chiefly for this reason, the proposal 
failed ; and when Austria thereupon convoked the ministers of 
those states which had acceded to the Frankfort reform, in order 
to carry it out by means of a less comprehensive league — a 
league in which Prussia was not included, though her present 
position in the existing Confederation was preserved — a new dif- 
ficulty suddenly presented itself. It became apparent in the 
case of some of the reforming princes themselves that, whatever 
might be the energy of the conviction with which they had 

The Sclileswig-Holstein Movement in Germany, 369 

accepted the Frankfort scheme, it was less powerful than their 
dread of action, and their reluctance to make a sacrifice for the 
good of the common country. In many of the minor courts it 
was pretended that the resistance of Prussia was a decisive im- 
pediment to every reform, and therefore a sufficient reason for 
inaction ; the pretence was represented as patriotism ; and when 
King Maximilian of Bavaria started for Rome, his journey was 
regarded as a flight from the necessity of deciding whether the 
reform should be practically accomplished, or whether a con- 
firmation should be given to the state of things which had been 
solemnly pronounced rotten and unendurable. Thus the re-or- 
ganisation of the Federal constitution had for the time to be 
abandoned ; the Prussian minister triumphed, and was applauded 
even by the party of progress in Prussia ; and the Emperor of 
Austria found his scheme deserted even by those who had most 
warmly embraced it. 

These proceedings, sufficiently disguised by patriotic declara- 
tions and promises, come down to the time of King Frederick's 
death, and had their place among the motives which led the 
Emperor of the French to propose a European Congress. Except 
in Prussia, in the Nationalverein, which aims at excluding Austria 
from Germany, and making the rest of the nation Prussian^ and 
among the democrats who speculate on the dissolution of exist- 
ing institutions, they caused a general sense of dissatisfaction 
and disgust. These feelings had as yet no distinct grounds for 
directing themselves against any definite grievance; but they 
gave full scope to the influence of revolutionary agitation, urging 
the hopelessness of a national reform without the reviving agency 
of a radical convulsion. The popular indignation was turned 
first against Prussia, for her dogged opposition to any improve- 
ment in the system, and then also against the wavering and 
shrinking of the middle states from the hopeful promise of the 
Frankfort scheme. On the other hand, Austria gained no sym- 
pathy ; for the theory of the middle states was, that they had 
entrusted her with the office of reconciling Prussia to the pro- 
jected reform, although, instead of sustaining her in the negotia- 
tions, they had one after another withdrawn from their engage- 
ment on particular points, or released themselves by urging the 
necessity of postponing active measures until a complete preli- 
minary agreement should be established between Vienna and 

Under these conditions the great German powers and the Go- 
vernments and people of the lesser states encountered the sudden 
crisis occasioned by the King of DenmarVs death. From the first, 
the Austrian government fdly understood the nature of the en- 
thusiastic outbreak, and proceeded in the belief that the nation 

370 The ScJdesivig -Hoi stein Movement in Germamj. 

could not be pacified or the contest avoided. The Prussian minis- 
tvy had its own reasons for regarding the prospect of hostilities 
with favour. Both powers^ however, were alike determined not to 
provoke the inevitable issue, but to come to it under the most 
favourable auspices they could secure, and to prevent it from be- 
coming a European war. Though they had so lately been in a 
state of violent antagonism on the question of Federal reform, they 
soon discovered many points at which their interests thorouglily 
coincided. Their recent experience gave them little confidence 
in the vigour or independence of the policy of the middle states. 
But these states, supported by the great national movement, 
now demanded that Prussia and Austria should throw over 
their engagements wdth Europe l^y the treaty of London, and 
should simply, against the menaces of all Europe, carry out the 
measures of the Confederation, which was not bound by that 
treaty. There was no assurance, however, that the middle group 
would stand by the two powers to the end. The latter, there- 
fore, came to the determination to arrest the rising flood by 
insisting on the absolutely defensive character of the Federal 
constitution. And, as they could neither entirely elude the na- 
tional sentiment, nor accept its control over themselves, they 
agreed in endeavouring to get the whole afiair into their own 
hands. This it was impossible to accomplish without some rude 
shocks to the Federal system. 

The position of the two great powers was seriously affected 
by the attitude of their own subjects. Austria was not directly 
concerned in the affairs of Schleswig-Holstein except through 
the treaty of London ; but the movement in the German nation 
required of her that, as a member of the Confederation, she 
should obey the Federal resolutions, and should make war for 
the destruction of the treaty, if necessary against the whole of 
Europe. But Austria had been deserted by Germany in her own 
cause. Her political and economical exclusion from the nation 
was constantly demanded by the very party that claimed to be 
most purely national, and her recent scheme of German organi- 
sation had been thrown over by that other party which professed 
to uphold her federal connection with Germany. For these suf- 
ficient reasons the enthusiasm did not extend at first to the 
German provinces of Austria. Sympathy with the cause of the 
Duchies, and anxiety for their deliverance from the spiteful 
tyranny of the Danish democracy, were as strong in Austria as 
in the rest of Germany ; but the practical, political interest in 
the matter grew into importance only in proportion to the part 
which the government actually took. Hence it is very remark- 
able, and significant of the preponderance of the German element 
in Austria, that when the lleichsrath came to discuss the policy 

The Schleswig-Holstein Movement in Germany. 371 

of Count Rechberg in the Sclileswig-Holstein affair, on the vote 
of credit for the federal execution in Holstein, the victory of the 
government was accompanied by a schism in Schmerling's com- 
pact majority, and many eminent public men expressed their 
belief that the ministry had sacrificed the obligations of Austria 
as a German state to her position as a great European power. 
This schism may hereafter have important consequences in the 
internal life of the empirg. The ministry, by its previous policy, 
especially by the alliance of the foreign office with the Bismarck 
administration in Prussia, had forfeited much of the sympathy of 
Germany ; but it now became more popular, and much of its 
former prestige was recovered by the subsequent achievements of 
the Austrian army in the national cause. 

The position of the Prussians towards the Schleswig-Holstein 
question is different. They have always claimed to lead Germany, 
on the ground of their eminently national spirit; and they have 
been in the habit of using the cause of the Duchies to throw dis- 
credit on the Diet, to illustrate the impotence of the middle 
states, and to represent Austria as the obstacle to a satisfactory 
settlement. If, as the popular voice would have it, the course 
taken by the several German races with regard to the present 
conflict were applied as a test of their patriotism, the Prussians 
would not come well out of the trial. By the end of 1863 
almost every town in the middle states, especially in Southern 
Germany, had declared, either at meetings or by its municipal 
organs, that it was ready to make the most extreme sacrifices for 
the independence of Schleswig-Holstein under its native prince, 
and had begun to collect money, and founded associations to pro- 
mote that end. But in Prussia there had been scarcely any 
demonstrations of the same kind, except among the students. 
Since the beginning of the present year also the Prussians have 
remained much more sparing of these manifestations of feeling 
than the rest of the Germans, though the Prussian liberal orators 
have appeared at meetings in Central Germany, to urge the 
adoption of the most extreme resolutions against the policy of 
the Great Powers. In the parliament at Berlin the affair of the 
Duchies was at first almost ignored, being looked on as an un- 
timely interruption of the wordy but unproductive conflict with 
the reactionary ministry ; and when some exhibition of patriot- 
ism could no longer be decently avoided, the question was treated 
much less in the interest of Schleswig-Holstein than as a part 
of the Prussian dispute with the Bismarck cabinet. Waldeck, 
the democratic leader, declared that no notice ought to be taken 
of the Duchies as long as there was no prospect of making them 
a Prussian province. When supplies were demanded to enable 
the government to execute the military mission it had received 

VOL. IV. c c 

372 The Schleswig-Holstein Movement in Germany, 

from the Diet, they were refused by the House of Deputies. The 
vote was disguised as one of want of confidence in the foreign 
poKcy of the minister; but it was given in the full consciousness 
that he could not be driven from office, and that this defeat 
would place him in the dilemma of either neglecting the federal 
duties of Prussia, or crowning his many breaches of the consti- 
tution by one which would be practically justifiable, and would 
inflict a deeper wound than any which ^ad gone before it on the 
principle of the constitutional monarchy. 

jSFor had the military achievements of the Prussians against 
the Danes the same effect as those of the Austrians, in somewhat 
reconciling public opinion in Germany to their political conduct. 
Indeed, the contrast between the lofty language of the Prussian 
commanders and the results they were able to show even caused 
some injustice to be popularly done to the valour of the troops, 
and kept alive, in the case of Prussia, that suspicion of an under- 
standing with Denmark which it was no longer possible for the 
most unscrupulous demagogue to breathe against Austria. More- 
over, the haughtiness of the Prussian officers provoked perpetual 
conflicts with the federal authorities in Holstein ; and these con- 
flicts recalled the memory of 1849 too clearly not to lead to the 
persuasion that Prussia would again consider the Duchies as a 
conquest, made partly against Denmark and partly against the 
Confederation, which might be disposed of simply in accordance 
with Prussian interests. It was also thought to be a cause for 
alarm that, in the Prussian parliament_, the opposition directed 
its attacks against individuals only, and seemed blind to the 
infraction of the rights of the other German states which was 
involved in the independent course of the government. 

It is evident, then, that popular opinion did not determine 
the policy of the gi-eat German powers ; nor did their parlia- 
ments constrain them to pursue any given path or aim, since 
the votes of those bodies were only negative, expressing dissatis- 
faction with particular ministers, but not suggesting any definite 
measures. The smaller states, however, whose policy could only 
assert itself through the Diet, were much more extensively con- 
trolled by the pressure of the prevailing spirit. It is hard to say 
why the movement in these states was more slow to manifest 
itself in Northern than in Southern Germany. But it must be 
borne in mind that the vote of the Diet on the 7th of December, 
on the question of a complete separation between the Duchies 
and the Danish monarchy, was decided by a small majority, and 
that that majority was composed of northern states which sup- 
ported Austria and Prussia in carrying the long-delayed federal 
execution, instead of the Bavarian proposal of an occupation for 
protecting all the federal rights in the new order of things. At 

The Schleswig-Holstein Movement in Germany. 373 

that time, indeed, the governments of Southern Germany did not 
occupy the advanced position which they afterwards came to hold. 
The populations from the first had pressed in that direction ; but 
they moderated their warlike ardour and their readiness to make 
sacrifices, when, as events proceeded, it became clear that if the 
agitators were allowed to lead the movement, it could never attain 
its ends without a civil war against the great powers, or an 
alliance with France. In either case, it was evident, the inde- 
pendence of the lesser states would be destroyed; and the instinct 
of self-preservation at last prevailed over the patriotic anxiety 
for the inhabitants of the Duchies. The popular feeling in favour 
of their complete independence and their adoption into the Con- 
federation, where they would necessarily strengthen the purely 
German element, is at this moment stronger and more active in 
the middle states than in Austria and Prussia. But when the 
Bavarian and, still more, the Saxon government cling so firmly 
to the inalienable rights of the Duchies, and the legitimacy of the 
pretender's claims, and oppose the policy of the two great powers 
with so much fanaticism as to be constantly on the verge of war 
with them, they are of course influenced by motives that have 
little to do with the good cause of Schleswig-Holstein, and the 
rightfulness of the Augustenburg succession. 

These motives, however, are not the only ones that govern the 
conduct of the lesser states ; but they go far to explain the fact 
that these states, and especially such of them as are in the South, 
have yielded almost without resistance to the impulse of the great 
agitation. The death of King Frederick, as we have seen, coincided 
in point of time with the collapse of the project of federal reform. 
The two extreme parties, the Meindeutsch Nationalverein and the 
ffrossdeutsch Reformverein, regarded this collapse as a conjunc- 
ture favourable to their radical designs ; but this sentiment was 
not a general one. The overwhelming mass of the Germans hold 
that the national constitution can only be remodelled on some 
scheme which shall harmonise the interests of the petty sove- 
reigns with the complicated relations of the great powers ; and 
they were persuaded that the princes who had adopted the Aus- 
trian scheme at Frankfort had faltered in their patriotic resolu- 
tion from no worthier motive than a dread of the sacrifice of 
independent authority which the scheme necessarily involved. 
When the lesser states excused their refusal to join Austria in 
accomplishing the reform without Prussia, by alleging that 
nothing could be done until the two great powers had cdme 
to an understanding, the allegation was regarded as a sign of 
pusillanimous insincerity; since the differences between those 
powers are such that an understanding was never to be expected. 
The democracy and the adherents of the Prussian supremacy 

374 The Schleswig-Holstein Movement in Germany, 

were actively endeavouring to make capital out of the position 
of affairs. It was now clear, they argued, from the failure of 
the reform, that a strong and united Germany could spring only 
from a convulsion which should overthrow the princes, or from 
the subjugation of the lesser ones under the Prussian power. 
All this weakened the monarchical principle in the smaller 
states ; but the governments yielded to no illusions. They felt 
the absolute necessity of recovering themselves in the eyes of the 
nation ; and when the storm burst forth in November, without 
any intervention of the great parties, they seized the occasion 
Avith extraordinary eagerness, in order to restore the popu- 
larity of the central states. In Bavaria, where the enthusiasm 
of the people was the most stern and resolute, the government 
found an additional inducement to favour it, in the satisfaction 
of taking revenge on the Danish royal family for its acceptance 
of the Hellenic throne. Later on, however, the policy of the 
two great powers towards the Diet threvr the majority, com- 
posed of the lesser states, more and more into the background, 
and practically deprived them of their equal rights as confeder- 
ates ; while the general movement, passing into the hands of the 
gi'cat parties, sustained the policy of the federal majority, for 
the realisation of which it was ready to create a separate con- 
federation of the minor powers. In this position of affairs Ba- 
varia stood forward as being, for such an eventuality, the natural 
leader of Central Germany; but she began to temporise, and 
grew more moderate, when the majority in the Diet became 
less united, and the advance of Austria and Prussia removed 
the question of the Duchies from the federal jurisdiction into the 
region of international law. The agitators and demagogues of 
the Nationalverein now sought to rouse the indignation of the 
patriots against this apparent lukewarmness of the Bavarians ; 
and the Saxon minister. Von Beust, eagerly possessed himself of 
the vacant position, at least as far as words could do it. But all 
these combinations of the minor states lost much of their effect 
in the actual votes of the Diet, and were moreover neutralised 
by the progress of events in the field. The conference of min- 
isters at Wurzburg was not attended by the minor governments 
of Northern Germany, Hanover, Hesse, and Oldenburg; and 
its failure demonstrated both the impossibility of organising a 
third group of states on strictly national principles, in oppo- 
sition to the more scrupulous and cautious European policy of 
the great powers, and also the improbability that a union of 
those states M^ould ever accomplish its destined mission of medi- 
ating between Austria and Prussia. 

In the earlier days of the movement the popular agitation 
sought, by parliamentary addresses, by meetings, and by every 

The Schlesivig-Holstein Movement in Germany, 375 

sort of demonstration, to drive the middle states into a violent 
antagonism to the great powers in the Confederation, and thus 
compelled these powers to undertake the winter campaign across 
the Eider, in order to prevent a German, and to localise the 
Danish, war. The same agitators now" overwhelm the middle 
states Avith abuse and votes of censure for their want of unanimity, 
for the inefficacy of their resolutions in the Diet, and for the 
failure of their lofty promises. If these zealots had their way, 
it is quite possible that we might live to see the armies of Central 
Germany falling on the rear of the allies in Schleswig, simply be- 
cause the programme of the great powers is less satisfactory for 
the national interests than the promises of the minor states. 
Urged forward by the popular excitement, and jealous for the 
maintenance of their equal position with the great powers in 
the Diet, partly influenced by dynastic sympathy with the 
Prince of Augustenburg, and partly impressed with the decisive 
consequences of the present struggle on their own security 
hereafter, the rulers of Central Germany undertook to gratify 
the illusions of their subjects by comporting themselves like 
great powers. Their hesitating attempt was frustrated by the 
rude realities of comparative force; and its failure naturally 
brought on them the bitter anger of their own people, whom 
the organs of the governments themselves had helped to work 
up to their former pitch of excitement and expectation. The 
illusion of a third group of states counterbalancing the two great 
powers has vanished, though its ghost may long continue to be 
called up at intervals, for various purposes and on different sides. 
Germany owes this humiliating result chiefly to the two great 
parties, both of which were substantially ruined by the failure of 
the Act of Reform. The Nationalverein, indeed, had lost its in- 
fluence from the beginning of the Bismarck rule in Prussia. 
Having made the absorption of Germany by Prussia the key- 
stone of its policy, its vitality was destroyed when the Prussian 
government scornfully refused its alliance, and the Prussian 
people proved too weak to prevent, or even to check, the unsym- 
pathising and separatist absolutism of their rulers. For a whole 
year the national association had solemnly abjured the Prussian 
supremacy, without having obtained any substitute except the 
vague cry of Progress. Many of those who, under its banner, 
had formed the majority in some of the lesser parliaments, aban- 
doned its tainted name, and called themselves the party of Pro- 
gress. But the abjuration of the Prussian fanaticism was a mere 
hypocrisy. The party still intrigued to bring the parliaments 
into collision with the governments, and to prevent any reform 
that did not tend towards the annexation to Prussia. It la- 
boured every where to introduce disorganisation and disorder. 

376 The Schlesiuig-Hohteln Movement in Germany, 

looking forward to the moment of a sudden change of system at 
Berlin, and reckoning that Germany would then be the more 
easily incorporated with Prussia the more completely its political 
institutions were undermined. So far there was method in the 
madness. But, as the disappointment lasted and success was de- 
layed, the party of Progress fell more and more into the hands 
of demagogues, without principles, or morality, or logic. Every 
opportunity was seized to recall its services to the recollection of 
the masses ; and this agitation for the sake of agitation it carried 
on with a skill and perseverance hardly ever before exhibited by 
a party which has retained its organisation without any distinct 
ideas. But it lost more and more the respect of the masses; 
and the signs of its decline became apparent as events marched 
on without regard for its impotence. For months it had been, 
eagerly seeking some definite national object, in order to sum- 
mon its rank and file again round its deserted standard and its 
isolated staff. Fate sent it the death of Frederick VII., the 
common constitution of the 19th of November, and the Schles- 
wig-Holstein pretender. 

It cannot be said that when the crisis came the grossdeutsch 
party was any better prepared. Its moderate and loyal members 
were combined and organised in the reform associations ; but 
the more democratic elements, which a popular movement must 
chiefly rely on, held aloof. If the federal principle had not 
recently suffered a heavy defeat by the failure of the scheme for 
reform, the Schleswig-Holstein afl'air would no doubt have 
tended to the triumph of grossdeutsch opinions among the peo- 
ple. But, as matters actually stood, the sensible leaders of both 
the national parties could not help seeing that the independent 
popular agitation in favour of the Duchies would ignore them 
and pass them by ; and they understood the danger it would 
then be exposed to, of either degenerating into the vulgar instru- 
ment of demagogues, or breaking up into divided and impotent 
efforts, in either of which cases it would end in a ridiculous 
failure. This danger increased as the members of either party 
took the lead in the meetings and associations for Schleswig- 
Holstein in the several towns and territories, — a course in which 
the demagogues of the Nationalverein derived an advantage from 
their experience in agitating. To the leaders of the opposite 
party belongs the praise of having prepared a union between the 
Nationalverein and the Reformverein, independent of all party 
purposes, for the combined organisation and conduct of the popu- 
lar movement in a legal and peaceable manner. The represen- 
tatives of all the German parliaments and parties who met at 
Nuremberg in November, and convoked a general meeting of 
deputies at Frankfort for this purpose, evidently acted in the belief 

The SMeswig-Holstein Movement in Germany, 377 

that, since the whole nation was in principle united on this ques- 
tion, an alliance between the great national parties was possible, 
and would be able to exert a vigorous pressure on all those who 
might resist. But when the Frankfort assembly met, on the 21st 
of December, the state of affairs was completely changed. The 
members of the Natio7ialverein who had signed the Nuremberg 
compact, to set aside all party differences in order to cooperate 
for the independence of Schleswig-Holstein under Frederick of 
Augustenburg, had merely kept the name of their party out of 
sight, and had meanwhile been actively employed in getting the 
direction of the new associations exclusively into the hands of 
their partisans, and in monopolising the collection of money. The 
large sums over which they now obtained control, the careful 
organisation they already enjoyed, and the universality of the 
present movement, gave them an immense influence. They se- 
cured a majority in the committee of the Frankfort assembly, 
and constantly brought forward motions which distinctly aimed 
at the establishment of a sort of national government by the 
side of the regular state authorities. The grossdeutsch minority 
were reviled as Danes in Germany, denounced to the suspi- 
cions of the mob, and morally compelled to retire. In their ab- 
sence the Central Committee of Thirty- Six was appointed. Its 
members were chosen almost exclusively from among the leaders 
of the Nationalverein ; and they would have exercised a terrorism 
in Germany, as a committee of public safety, had it not been for 
the invariable and instinctive distrust felt by the nation for the 
party which sought by these intrigues to obtain the command 
of the people. 

The Germans desire no revolution ; and a revolution in the 
name of Schleswig-Holstein would damage the good cause of the 
Duchies, and ensure its ruin. The two great parties have been 
dissolved by the progress of events ; and the combination under 
which the national movement is continued will be determined 
by the issue of the struggle with Denmark. A unanimous reso- 
lution of the German people for the restoration of their unity 
wiU be more easily attained than hitherto, when right and might 
have been weighed in a single definite question. Many illusions 
have been dispelled by the course of affairs; but the positive 
determination to vindicate the rights of the Duchies is as deep 
and as strong throughout the nation, without distinction of race 
or creed or party, as on the first day of the agitation. The 
Germans feel that their position as an active power will be only 
recognised by Europe when it has been established by some po- 
litical achievement which shall be the work of the whole nation. 
They will follow that leader who will lead them to a national 
war. They regard the policy of Austria and Prussia with sus- 

378 The Schleswig-Holstein Movement in Germany. 

piciou ; but the suspicion is not strong enough to dispense the 
governments of the other states from answering to the call of 
those two powers, if they should summon the nation to arms in 
order that Schleswig-Holstein may not be once more left to the 
tender mercies of Europe, Avithout regard to its national claims. 
The insolence of Denmark has confirmed and fixed the determi- 
nation of the Germans ; and the powers who are executing that 
determination are for the time identical with Germany. 

[ 379 ] 


The gi*eat warehouses by our docks, where one kind of merchan- 
dise is ranged in interminable bales, are a fair symbol of English 
agriculture; while that of France may be likened to the shops, 
which exhibit every variety of commodity. The comparison 
does not imply a preference for either system, but simply asserts 
a fact which there is no need to explain when wc consider the 
difference of climate in the two countries. It is no whim of the 
farmer which covers Provence with olive-trees, the banks of the 
Rhine or Gironde with vines, or the Scotch mountains with their 
excellent beeves. Latitude decides the choice of crops, and thus 
indirectly influences the methods of cultivation. For the processes 
of cultivation are determined by the nature of the plants culti- 
vated ; a truism which will be found to have more important 
consequences than might be at first suspected. Thus, if one 
kind of crop could only be cultivated by hand, while another 
allowed the use of machinery, profound differences would in time 
be produced between the populations which cultivated the re- 
spective crops. 

But, Avhatever are the effects of climate, man has a still more 
powerful influence on agriculture, on its methods and its pro- 
cesses. A French proverb says, Tant vaut Thomme, tant imut la 
terre; but this seems to overlook the differences in the richness 
of soil, or rather to claim every thing for man^s intelligence 
and work. Part of his influence depends on the social or po- 
litical organisation of a country. In one nation land is looked 
upon as an instrument which loses its efficiency by being broken 
up ; and the law favours the undivided inheritance of real pro- 
perty. In another this use of land is hardly considered, in com- 
parison with the political and social advantages of each subject 
being a freeholder ; and the law orders the equal division of pro- 
perty. We are pronouncing no opinion on this, but simply stating 
the fact that in one place the law favours large properties, in 
another small ones. And although it has been argued that the 
size of properties need not determine the extent of farms, be- 
cause a large property may be let out in several farms, or a single 
farmer may rent a number of small properties, it is nevertheless 
certain that in the majority of cases the extent of farms has a 
close relation to the extent of properties. 

We have, then, three principal agents which give agriculture 
its characteristic differences — climate, man, and man's political 
or social organisation. There are also secondary agents whose 
influence must not be overlooked, such as the neighbourhood of 

380 Agriculture in France. 

a flourishing industrial population, offering a ready and certain 
market for the products of the soil, setting the example of opera- 
tions on a great scale^ and of the use of machinery, and providing 
out of its profits capital to be invested in agriculture. Good 
roads, peace, and security are other agents. It would be impos- 
sible to trace with any exactness the distinct action of each prin- 
cipal or secondary element. We see the combined effect of all 
at once; and one combination of causes, natural and social, cli- 
matic and political, gives to the agriculture of England the cha- 
racter of a factory, while another gives to that of France the 
character of a workshop. In the factory all the heavy work is 
done by natural forces — water, fire, or steam. In the workshop, 
though the aid of machinery is not discarded, the hand is the 
principal instrument employed. One method is distinguished 
by its extent, the other by its degree. These two divisions of 
agriculture may be traced in all countries. The one ever relies 
more or less on natural forces : the other is ever increasing the 
employment of man. Yet, though there is a perfect agreement 
in principles, there are many differences in the manner of their 
application. In England the high cultivation increases labour 
from the more careful breaking-up and cleansing of the soil; but 
it turns chiefly on manures, for which it spares no expense. In 
France the value of manures is by no means overlooked; but 
high cultivation turns chiefly on the increase of manual hus- 

This is no arbitrary difference. The French farmers are not 
so rich as the English, and are therefore less disposed to risk 
theu' money in manures. They are for the most part small pro- 
prietors, and cultivate their own freeholds by means of their 
families and a few servants. Often they pay nothing for assist- 
ance, but do all that is necessary in spare bits of time. It is the 
relative abundance of hands in France that makes the varieties 
of cultivation possible. In a workroom, each artisan may be 
engaged in a different work, without any relation to that of his 
neighbour ; in a factory, on the contrary, it is absolutely neces- 
sary that all the occupations should converge to one end. Va- 
riety of produce is out of the question, but in its place we have 
quantity. In the same time, or rather on a given area, English 
cultivation produces more than French ; and this is one ot the 
prerogatives of a factory over a workroom. If France only pro- 
duced corn, meat, and beer, like England, its inferiority Avould 
be great ; it would stand below its neighbour both in the quan- 
tity and in the quality of its produce. But France produces 
also large quantities of flax and colza, wine and silk, French 
plums, raisins, olives, almonds, figs, and oranges, enough to re- 
establish the balance in its favour. Many of these products 

Agriculture in France, 381 

succeed better with the concentrated labour of small proprietors 
than with the half-manufacturing processes of large farmers; 
and as in a favourable climate a family can live on a small piece 
of land, many French writers are in favour of small farms. 
Others prefer large ones. Their differences spring from the 
latter thinking that the state ought, before all things, to aim at 
abundance of raw products ; while the former think that progress 
consists in the fineness and quality of the produce. This result, 
it is said, is got by small farming, while abundance is secured 
by large farms. Though the actual quantities produced are 
greater in small farming, the net produce is greater in large 
farms. The majority of economists, hoAvever, are agreed that 
both systems are equally useful, if they are adopted with due 
regard to local and political circumstances. This theory, set 
forth with great talent by M. H. Passy in his Systemes de Cul- 
turey has silenced the disputes which used to be current about 
the size of farms; and the partisans of the two systems have 
united in the one effort of forwarding the progress of French 
agriculture, which is far from having attained the perfection of 
which it is capable. 

It would be a mistake to suppose that these efforts are only 
of to-day, or of 1815, the opening of the era of peace, or of 1789, 
the epoch of so many changes. We will not go so far back as to 
the time of Sully, who used to say that labourers and shepherds 
were the two breasts of the state ; or that of Colbert, who also 
patronised agriculture. We find that the French economists of 
the physiocratic school were the real originators of agricultural 
progress. During the second half of the eighteenth century they 
had great influence on public opinion, especially on that of the 
richer classes and the proprietors, whose expensive habits made 
them desirous of getting all they could out of their estates. Now, 
among Quesnay^s general maxims of economic government, the 
third is, " that prince and people should never lose sight of the 
fact that land is the one source of wealth, which agriculture is 
the means of multiplying. For the increase of wealth procures 
increase of population ; and capital and labour make agriculture 
prosperous, extend commerce, encourage industry, and increase 
and secure wealth. From this plenteous source springs the good 
administration of all parts of the state." The ninth maxim adds, 
*^ that a nation which has an extensive territory to cultivate, and 
facilities for maintaining a great commerce in raw produce, 
should not apply too much capital or too many hands to manu- 
factures or trade, to the prejudice of the hands or capital em- 
ployed in agriculture. For the first aim should be to have the 
kingdom well peopled with rich cultivators.^^ Quesnay adds a 
note, which we must also translate : " Of all methods of gaining 

382 Agriculture in France. 

money, there is none better, more profitable, more agreeable, more 
natural, or more liberal, than agriculture/' Among his disciples 
were Turgot, the Abbe Beaudau, Mercier de la Riviere, Dupont 
de Nemours, the INIarquis de Mirabeau, Condorcet, and many 
other celebrities of the time just preceding the Revolution. Great 
improvements were introduced into France through their influ- 
ence : the internal custom-houses were abolished, and the corn- 
trade became free throughout the kingdom ; a foundation was 
laid for freedom of manufactures ; commercial treaties were 
made ; and the breeding of merino sheep and some other agri- 
cultural improvements were encouraged. But far beyond these 
results was the influence of the opinions formed by the physio- 
crats — opinions in which there was much to disapprove, but 
which aided greatly in destroying prejudices unfavourable to 

Yet perhaps the physiocrats would not have advanced mat- 
ters much, had it not been for the Revolution of 1789. We 
are not here concerned with the political side of the Revolu- 
tion, but only with its manifold influence on agriculture. Of 
all the forces it brought to bear on this matter, the chief was 
the rude shock it gave men^s minds, to awaken them from 
their slumbers. The reproach of the continental farmer, as of 
the French peasant, is his invincible spirit of routine. For a long 
time he never read, never knew how to read ; he only tried to 
get out of his ground bare necessaries ; and his land, treated 
stingily and without knowledge, made a stingy answer to his 
prayer. In the northern provinces it lay fallow one in every 
three years ; in the south it w as only sown every other year. 
And whence could the peasant get the idea of progress ? The 
pamphlets of the physiocrats could never touch him, even if he 
had been able to read them ; they were not addressed to him ; 
and before they had time to create a public opinion strong enough 
to influence him, the tempest came which swept away the upper 
classes, and transfeiTed the greater part of the land to more 
greedy and also more industrious hands. 

Most people own that it was an act of robbery to deprive the 
Church and nobles of their lands; but almost every body admits 
that this robbery was a benefit to agriculture. Still, a few timid 
doubts may be expressed on this head. It is quite true that a 
large number of properties have been more profitable to the new 
than to the old owner; but this advantage has had many draw- 
backs. First, in many cases the purchaser of one of these biens 
nationaux, as the confiscated estates were called, was ill at ease 
in his conscience, and suspected the morality of the transaction. 
The consequence was that he did not feel quite secure of his 
title. A counter revolution might come and overthrow it. For 

Agriculture in France. S%Z 

this reason nobody would pay good coin for these stolen man- 
sions and forests, fields and meadows. However the king was 
cursed as a tyrant, his effigy in gold or silver was cherished and 
hoarded ; but the assignats, the paper money which was decreas- 
ing in value every day till it came to be worth nothing, were 
readily paid away for doubtful rights over real property. 

We say '^ rights over real property ;^^ for it is certain that for 
several years the purchasers made scarcely any use of their new 
acquisitions. They never dreamed of improvements, nor had they 
the capital to make them. Most of the purchasers were entirely 
without agricultural knowledge ; and the example of England was 
of no use to those who were about to wage so long and terrible a 
war with her — a war which also prevented the introduction of 
improved breeds of cattle. The peace of 1815, and the much- 
abused milliard which the Restoration gave as compensation to 
the emigres, at last gave complete security to the contested titles ; 
and from 1825, it is said, the change of ownership began to ex- 
hibit its full benefits. This we may grant, and yet doubt whether 
the nobles, if they had kept their estates, would have been more 
slow to move. Without citing the examples of other countries, 
let us ask, whose names do we generally see figuring in the prize- 
lists of the French cattle -sho ws ? The Comte de Falloux, the 
Marquis de Torcy, the Marquis de Vogue, the Comte de Tracy, 
the Marquis de Dampierre, M. de Behagne, and a number of 
other men of rank. Can we suppose that the gentlemen of the 
old regime, influenced by public opinion, incited by example, and 
stimulated hy want of money, would have been any slower to 
understand their own interests? No prejudice stood in their 
way ; it was shameful to trade, but it was not derogatory to a 
nobleman to improve the income of his property. 

There is another point that should be mentioned. It is usu- 
ally supposed that the subdivision of French properties was a 
fruit of the Revolution. But we have only to read contemporary 
writers like Arthur Young or Necker, or to run through the list 
of indemnities granted to the emigres, in order to see the false- 
hood or the exaggeration of this view. Before 1789 the number 
of small proprietors Avas very great. It is true that this number 
has increased through several causes, one of which is the law^ on 

' In the correspondence of Napoleon I. -with his brother Joseph, then king 
of Naples, we read: "Establish the French civil code at Naples ; and all that 
does not attach itself to you will be destroyed in a few years, while what you 
want to keep will be consolidated (by the majorats or entails). This is the great 

advantage of the civil code You must establish it in your kingdom ; it will 

" consolidate your power, because it undermines every property but the entails, 
and no great houses will remain but those which you set up as fiefs. This 
is what made me preach, and induced me to establish, a civil code" (xii. 432). 
The equal division of lands was previously in use for lands not belonging to the 
nobles ; and the Emperor only utilised an established custom. His plan was to 

384 Agriculture in France, 

the equal division of inheritances. This law causes a division of 
farms, but not to so great an extent as is supposed. The inheritors 
often prefer to sell the property, either by private contract or by 
auction, to one of their number, who pays their proportion of the 
value to the rest.^' Speculation is another cause; a company, 
nicknamed by its enemies the bande noire, bought large properties, 
and sold them in lots at a great profit. But we need not balance 
the good and evil done by this company, when we think how very 
small was its influence — so small that we only mention it because 
it made a great noise in the times of the Kestoration. 

It is more important to look at the question from a point of 
view which we do not remember to have seen mentioned. Writers 
have balanced large against small properties in relation to their 
productiveness, their political significance, and their bearings on 
agi'icultural progress, and have given their judgment in accordance 
with their views on these subjects; but they do not seem to have 
taken notice of the want of capital at the time of the Revolution. 
Now, however we may prefer large farms to small, it is clear 
that it is better to cultivate a small farm with a sufficient capital 
than a large one without it. As France was then situated, the 
division of property was in conformity with the smallness of 

The result of the Revolution most useful to the farmer is the 
equitable adjustment of taxation. The taxes are not less; but 
they are now levied legally and fairly. Many obstacles to pro- 
gress have also been swept away by the abolition of the rights of 
mills and ovens, and of several other absurd customs. The night 
of the 4th of August 1789 was an important epoch for French 
agriculture. A few days after — on the 11th — the decrees voted 
on that night were published in form. The first article entirely 
destroyed the feudal system. The personal feudal rights — those 
which estabhsh serfage, or confer honourable privileges — were 
abolished without compensation ; the profitable rights were to be 
purchased at a price fixed by the National Assembly. Articles 2 
and 3 abolished the exclusive right of dove-cotes, the rights of 
chase and free warren. Article 4 abolished the manorial courts 
of justice. Article 5 abolished all tithes in the hands of secular 
or regular corporations, and promised to provide in some other 
way for the expenses of worship, and for alms to the poor. All 
other tithes were made redeemable. Article 6 made all other 

strengthen his throne by surrounding it with a hundred possessors of majorats. 
It is surprising that so profound a genius should have thought of building his ^ 
dynasty on so weak a foundation so few years after Lewis XVI., the sacred ' 
majesty and inviolable king, liad found thousands of them unable to secure him 
from the scaffold. 

- A farm is rarely divided so as to break up a business; generally it is only 
the outlying plots of land that are divided. 

jigricuUure in France. o85 

perpetual rent-charges, whether in kind or money, redeemable. 
Article 7 abolished the purchase of magistracies and municipal 
offices. Article 8 suppressed the fees of country parsons, on 
condition that the increase of their portion congrue, or minimum 
revenue of 20/., was increased. Article 9 abolished all exemptions 
from taxation, and declared that the assessment should extend to 
all citizens and to all kinds of property, and be similar for all. 
Article 10 abolished the privileges of provinces, districts, and 
boroughs. Article 11 opened the admission to public offices to 
all citizens, without distinction of birth. Of course all these 
articles did not equally affect the progress of agriculture ; but we 
mention them all to show the nature of the change which the 
year 1789 must have produced on the popular mind. 

Agriculture perhaps was more directly interested^ in the law 
of the 28th of September 1791, sur les Mens et usages rurauoc. 
Its first article runs as follows: "The territory of France, 
throughout its whole extent, is free as the persons that inhabit 
it; therefore no landed property can be subject to any other 
usages than those established or recognised by the law, nor to any 
other sacrifices than those which public utility may require, upon 
the awarding of a just indemnity." The second article adds : 
'^ The proprietors are free to vary their crops as they please, and 
to dispose of all products of their lands within or without the 
frontiers of France, without prejudice to the rights of others, and 
in conformity with the laws." We will not quote the other en- 
actments of the " Rural Code," although such articles as those 
which allow every proprietor to enclose his estate, those on com- 
mon rights and the passage of flocks, those on the utilisation of 
rivers, and the like, are not without importance. In judging of 
the efifects of the Revolution, it should not be forgotten that 
France was a country where it was necessary to make a law to 
authorise the cultivator to change his crops as he pleased. 

From this time the coast was clear for the development of 
French agriculture. What use did it make of the facilities it 
had gained ? Did it seize them with all the ardour of the na- 
tional character — with that furia francese which other nations so 
often sneer at and envy ? Not so. Its ardour carried it to other 

' The following is the opinion of M. Lconce de Lavergne on the tithes 
{Economic rurale, p. 8) : " The suppression of the tithes was really a much less 
important measure than people think. The burden has been shifted, not 
abolished; for the expenses of public worship are now nearly 50,000,00 Of., 
although the promise of 1789, to raise all the country jjarsons' incomes to 1200f., 
has not been fulfilled. The clergy have lost on the whole about 20,000, OOOf. 
a year ; but I do not believe the tithe-payers have gained this amount. It would 
not be difficult to show in our present budget 20,000,000f. less profitably spent 
than the old tithes. On the other hand, the rent of the land has been generally 
increased by the amount of the tithes, and the farmers who are not also pro- 
prietors have gained nothing." 

386 Agriculture in France, 

fields, which it fertilised Avith its blood, if not with its labour. 
The wars which desolated Europe during the Republic and the 
Empire took the labourers from the fields ; and the traveller in 
1810, or 1812, or even later, might have seen in Alsace, or 
Flanders, or Normandy, many a wagon driven by women, and 
of the other sex nothing but old men and invalided soldiers. 
This w'as not the season for agriculture to advance. Still the 
imperial times were not quite destitute of progress. Great at- 
tention was given to the maintenance and improvement of 
the main roads — the cross roads came afterwards — and to the 
construction of bridges and canals. A law was made for the 
drainage of marshes ; and the continental blockade gave birth to 
the beetroot-sugar trade, — a proof that there is no wind so ill 
as not to blow good to somebody. 

We do not mean that this was all that the imperial govern- 
ment did for agriculture. If we may believe an Englishman 
who travelled through France after 1815, the progress made since 
the time of Arthur Young was surprising. " We no longer see,'* 
says he, " the peasants covered with rags, and so miserable that 
they are only objects of pity. Now they seem well fed and 
well to do.^^ Of course there was progress ; it is a natural ten- 
dency of mankind. And those great wars, though they cost 
much blood, yet carried the French peasants through all the 
countries of Europe, and showed them how other nations tilled 
their lands. In their tedious winter- quarters, in their lengthened 
garrison duties, idleness came to be, for a wonder, the mother of 
learning ; and many a mind was struck by the processes wit- 
nessed in foreign countries. So the crusades, though they could 
not preserve Jerusalem to Christendom, had veiy important indi- 
rect effects. But we do not thank people for benefits which they 
did not intend j and governments especially must not take credit 
for improvements to which they have not directed their efforts. 

In England we should be loth to admit that the interference 
of government could benefit agriculture. It must be left to pri- 
vate adventurers ; or if it wants any patrons, any persons to watch 
over its progress, our gentry are fuUy equal to the work. But 
it is not so in France. Frenchmen are as willing to make sacri- 
fices as we are ; but the two countries differ in the thing they 
give. Frenchmen are prodigal of their blood, but sparing of 
their money. We are prodigal of our money, but parsimonious 
of our blood. Improvements are expensive. In France only 
the government will bear their cost. People know that the 
government has no means except those which it extracts from 
the pockets of the tax-payers ; but no matter. Any thing whicli 
bears V attache of the government, which is countersigned by its 
functionaries, or carries evidence of its presence, is thought more 

Agriculture in France, 387 

of by many Frenchmen than any thing that depends on private 
enterprise. It has even been argued that '^ agriculture can only 
flourish when it is the object of anxious and constant supervision 
by the government/' We have a better opinion of French agri- 
culture. AYe consider it perfectly able to walk without leading- 
strings. It is of age. But still, as there exists in France a 
complete administrative organisation for the promotion of rural 
economy, we must give a general account of it as it exists at 
present, without troubling ourselves to give the exact dates of 
all its developments. 

The ministry of agriculture, commerce, and public works is 
the organ of the government for this purpose. One of its de- 
partments oversees the whole province of rural economy, with 
the aid of a staff of " general inspectors.^' As each farmer may 
farm as he pleases, the ministry can give no orders. Its only 
means of persuasion is by its teaching, by encouragements_, by 
the institutions it founds, and by the laws which it recommends. 

As to its teaching, the first attempts at agricultural instruc- 
tion were made by private persons in France as w-ell as in Eng- 
land, and even in Germany. Matthieu de Dombasle, the founder 
of Roville, near Nancy, was the beginner of French agronomic in- 
stitutes. Roville disappeared from the agricultural firmament after 
its founder's death, but the Annals of Roville perpetuate its me- 
mory. Its successors have been Grignon, near Versailles, founded 
in 1827 by M. Bella, whose son is still at its head; Granjonan, 
in the environs of Nantes, founded in 1832 by M. Biefiel ; and 
Le Saulsaie, in the department of the Ain, not very far from the 
Swiss frontier, founded in 1840 by M. Niviere. These three in- 
stitutions still exist. In 1848 they passed into the hands of the 
government as " district schools of agriculture,'^ and now figure 
in the budget as " imperial schools of agriculture." The change 
of name is not without significance, and may be easily explained. 
When private agricultural institutions were seen to flourish in 
France, pressure was put on the government to make them take 
up the business. Perhaps the government of July would have 
yielded. In those days it was the fashion to say that France was 
an essentially agricultural country. It was the boast of orators 
who did not know how much better it is for a country to be at 
once agricultural, commercial, and manufacturing. Now in a 
country essentially agricultural, it was an essential function of 
the state to teach agriculture. After the Bevolution of 1848 the 
new government, it is said, found the plans drawn up. The late 
M. Thouret, a distinguished agronomist, to whom the chances 
of politics gave the portfolio of agriculture, had the pleasure of 
organising a whole system of agricultural instruction. An agro- 
nomic institute was founded at Yersailles for the scientific studies ; 

VOL. IV. d d 

388 Jgriculture in France, 

the three existing institutions were adopted; it was proposed 
to found seven or eight more in different districts of France, for 
middle, or, as the French say, secondary instruction ; and there 
were to be school-farms'* for inferior, or primary instruction. 
Of these there was to be one for each of the 86 departments, — 
or even for each of the 363 arrondissements. But when a law 
begins its existence on paper, it does not always penetrate into 
the region of facts. Sometimes the people will not have it; 
sometimes circumstances prevent it ; sometimes the two obstacles 
combine. In the present case the organisers of 1848 wanted to 
go too fast. The pace soon slackened; and now there is no 
movement at all, at least in this direction. The agronomic in- 
stitute of Versailles, under the presidency of M. de Gasparin, 
and with a constellation of brilliant professors, nominated after a 
competitive examination, had rapidly made itself a great name. 
Why the imperial government suppressed it, has never been told 
to the world ; but the consequence of this event is that the 
secondary institutions have become imperial instead of district 
schools. At the same time the 49 school-farms passed from the 
third into the second rank ; and now there is a talk of establish- 
ing a new third rank by introducing agricultural instruction into 
the primary schools. It would thus be brought home to all the 
population. Trials have been made, but on no connected plan. 
The principle is still a V etude. Besides this symmetrically organ- 
ised instruction J there are professors of agriculture at Rodez, Be- 
san9on, Quimper, Bordeaux, Beauvais, Toulouse^ Nantes, Rouen, 
and Amiens, who sometimes also go on lecturing tours. There 
are also three veterinary schools supported by the state, at Alfort 
near Paris, Lyons, and Toulouse. 

Without entering into the question whether agricultural 
instruction is best given by the state or by private enterprise, 
we may submit that, if the state meddles with the business, it 
should do it thoroughly. And how can the system be perfect 
without its head — without the high school which " crowned the 
edifice''? It was from this establishment that the most im- 
portant progress radiated. It was there that inveterate pre- 
judices were most efficaciously combated ; for it was there that 
the richest, the most intelligent, the most progressive cultivators 
— the model farmers, whose practice enlightened whole neigh- 
bourhoods and reversed their routine — received their education. 
The need seems so great, that we should think an institution of 
the kind would be supported, even in France, without any assist- 
ance from the government. 

Many people entertain the same opinion of some other estab- 

* These farms are private establishments, the proprietors of which receive a 
salary from the state. The pupils are few, and have to perform manual labour. 

Agriculture in France, 389 

lishmeiits, whicli belong to the list of means of " encourage- 
ment" employed by the government ; such as the dairy and 
sheep farms^ and the breeding-studs. The imperial dairy and 
sheep farms^ are situated at Moneavril, GevroUes^ Haut Tingray_, 
Le Pin, St. Angeau, Alfort, Mably, Le Camp, and Trevoux. These 
are the most important farms; and, with the addition of those 
of Rambouillet and Vincennes, are the nurseries whence every 
year come the bulls and rams destined to improve the breeds 
of cattle. Several of the rams have been sold for high prices, 
a^d some have been taken to the Baltic provinces. At such 
prices private enterprise would make a profit. The introduction 
of sheep of fine fleece dates from the last century,^ and the in- 
tervention of the government was no doubt useful at first. Soon 
after the introduction of the merinos, attention was awakened to 
the remarkable qualities of English breeds, and Gilbert was sent 
over to report upon them ; but there is no trace of their intro- 
duction into France at that time. Wollaston, in 1819, was the 
first to import the Ditchley or New Leicesters ; M. de Morte- 
mart followed in 1825 ; and the government only took up the 
matter in 1831. In 1836 the Southdowns, and in 1837 the New 
Kents, were imported to improve the French breeds. The Dur- 
ham cattle were introduced in 1823 by Briere d'Azy. 

The English thorough-bred horses have been known in 
France since the seventeenth century; but nothing practical 
came of it till 1754, when, for a bet, one traversed the forty 
miles between Fontainebleau and Paris in 108 minutes. But the 
royal breeding-studs contained not only English stallions, but 
some from all countries famous for their horses. The Republic 
suppressed these studs in 1 793 ; Napoleon reestablished them in 
1806; and from that time they have been kept up or reorganised, 
according as the government simply desired to encourage or was 
ambitious to transform. At the present time the order of the 
day is encouragement, by letting out good staUions, by giving 
prizes for grooming and the like, by different recompenses, and 
especially by the purchase of horses for the army, and even 
sometimes for the Emperor's stables. Sometimes the govern- 
ment adds good advice, as may be seen from a passage out of a 
report of the director of the studs : " Breeders must now see 
that, in exchange for the encouragements of all kinds given 
them not only by the state, but by the departments and the 
towns, they must try to justify the sacrifices and the care be- 

5 The state bears the expenses only of the sheep-farms of GdvroUes and 
Haut Tingi-ay, and of the dairy-farms of Corbon and St. Angeau. The others 
are chargeable to the Emperor's civil list. 

8 It was through the Due Ch. de Trudaine, intendant of finances, and Dau- 
benton, that merino sheep were introduced into France, in 1766. 

390 Agriculture in France. 

stowed on them. If they wish to put into their own pockets the 
miUions which horse-fanciers spend in foreign parts, they must 
henceforth set themselves to give their produce such qualities as 
every consumer has a right to demand. When this truth is 
acknowledged, when the breeders have really entered on the 
way of progress, the national production will take its eagle-flight, 
and the horse-breeding trade (Vindustrie chevaline — we are at 
a loss for plain English to translate the eloquence of this bril- 
liant Houyhnhnm) will be set on its true basis ; then with more 
self-confidence, and with intelligence to judge of its own in- 
terests, it will perhaps be foremost to demand its initiative as 
ardently as erst it demanded the protection of the state." What 
would be the feelings of a respectable English farmer thus offi- 
cially instructed and dictated to by the first clerk of the cattle- 
market ? 

Another means of administrative encouragement connected 
with the studs is horse-racing. The first race took place in the 
Plaine des Sablons in 1776. Now there are more than 60 hip- 
podromes, where there are several races in the year, besides be- 
tween 80 and 100 courses for steeple-chases and trotting-courses 
for hacks. Nearly 400 prizes are distributed every year. 

But the agricultural shows, where cattle, implements, and 
produce are exhibited, are of more importance than the races. 
There are two series of cattle-shows. The first comprises ani- 
mals for the shambles, beginning with the Poissy show in 1844 
— where the most important exhibitions all take place. There 
are also annual shows at Lyons, Bordeaux, Lille, Nimes, and 
Nantes. The second series is for breeding animals, beginning 
with the exposition at Versailles in 1 850, where 63 cattle, 63 
sheep, 10 swine, 155 implements, and 90 lots of produce, were 
exposed. In 1851 there were four exhibitions in different parts 
of France; in 1852-1857, eight ; in 1859-1862, ten; and in 1863, 
1864, twelve. In 1863 the numbers of cattle, implements, and 
lots of produce were reckoned by thousands. The utility of 
these shows is undeniable. They are a strong stimulant to some, 
and an excellent school for others. Moreover these official ex- 
hibitions are not the only ones. There are numbers of others, 
less extensive, but as efficacious, organised by agricultural asso- 
ciations and committees. There are also ploughing -matches 
and the like, the eflFect of which may be imagined from a fact 
reported in the newspapers a few months ago. A ])old and 
hardworking peasant presented himself at a match with his rude 
ancestral plough; but he was so soon distanced by the improved 
implements, that he solemnly broke up his old machine and 
bought a new one. It is thus that progress makes its way, by 
gradually breaking up routine and prejudice. 

Jgriculture in France. 391 

These private associations and committees, the number of 
which amounts to 741, are of incalculable use. They include 
among their members a large number of small farmers and 
peasants, who meet at stated intervals to hear a paper read on 
some question of agriculture, who organise various competitive 
exhibitions, and who give prizes for all kinds of progress, either 
out of their private contributions or out of money which the 
government awards to them. Among these prizes is the whole 
class of pi'imes d/honneur which the government instituted in 
1856, and has since developed. The ministerial circular thus 
explains the motives and considerations on which the step was 
taken : ^^Thc competitive exhibition brings out and awards prizes 
to those specimens of each race which display the best conforma- 
tion and the most desirable qualities : but the award of the jury 
is not current beyond the area of the exhibitors. It is based 
solely on the animal exhibited, without consideration for the con- 
ditions under which it has been bred, for the system of which it 
is an expression, for the money which has been expended on it, 
for the loss or gain which the production of it will bring to the 
breeder or fatter.^' 

The same is true of the agricultural productions. "The 
economical question, then, is necessarily kept almost out of 
sight by the juries, when, for instance, they award the prize to 
the best bull, and point it out to breeders as an example of 
desirable qualities, without any consideration of the cost of its 
production. Considered simply as institutions for determining 
and awarding prizes to absolute perfection, we may say that the 
competitive exhibitions have fully attained their object, and ful- 
filled the expectations which the administration had in creating 
them. But another step may now be taken; and we may con- 
sider whether a development of the institution, enabling it to em- 
brace a sphere hitherto beyond its action, would be both useful 
and easy to accomplish." 

The administration thereupon founded a special prize of 
oOOOf., and a silver cup valued at 3000f., for the agriculturist 
whose farming was best, and who had brought into operation 
the most useful improvements. As there are twelve district ex- 
hibitions every year, there are twelve of these primes d^honneur, 
"The competition," says the circular of 1856, "is only really 
and seriously open to proprietors or large farmers, whose culti- 
vation is both scientific and perfectly adapted to the circum- 
stances of their locality, economical in cost, and productive in 
results. The jury, in a word, has not to award a prize for en- 
couragement, but to recompense a net result, incontestable in its 
reality, and capable of being appealed to as a model example to 
show how economy in expenditure, order in labour, perfection in 

392 Agriculture in France, 

system, the happy alliance of science and practice, and, finally, a 
proper subordination of system to invincible circumstances, create 
present prosperity and secure a great future for rural industry." 
This measure has resulted in giving prominence to many model 
farms; and if the prizes did not make them well cultivated, they 
at least brought them forward as examples for emulation. 

The expenses of this administrative instruction and encour- 
agement stand as follows in the estimates of the Minister of 
Agriculture for 1864 : 

Veterinary schools 643,300f. 

Imperial schools of agriculture .... 530,600 

School-farms, grants to 680,000 

Dairy and sheep farms 199,100 

Agricultural colonies 30,000 

Professors of agriculture 18,300 

Inspectors of agriculture 69,000 

Encouragements — prizes for competition, \ , ^^^ ^^^w 

grants to societies, and the like . . j ' ' 

Total chargeable to the ministerial budget 3,670,300 
Add, expenses of breeding-studs . . . 1,860,000 

General total . . 5,530,300 

On the other side, we must extract from the same budget cer- 
tain receipts derived from these establishments, which go towards 
lessening the above expenditure : 

Veterinary schools 390,850f. 

Imperial schools of agriculture .... 258,500 

National sheep-farms, exclusive of those 1 - « r^r^r. 

dependent on the civil list .... J ' 

National dairy-farm 96,956 

Studs 652,460 

Total . . 1,450,766 

After instruction and encouragement, legislation furnishes 
the government with its most potent lever for forcing agricul- 
tural progress. Here our field is large, and we might carry up 
our history to remote times. But we will confine ourselves to 
the most recent measures, without going back beyond the last 
ten years. 

The Credit Fonder must head the list, though the company 
bearing that name was only constituted on the 28th of February 
1852. But it would be as idle to make credit on real security 
depend on that decree, as to make language the invention of the 
first grammarian. Loans on real securities are almost as old as 
real property itself; and France has had good experience of 

Agriculture in France. 393 

them, since she has accumulated a mass of mortgages estimated 
at 5 milliards by some, and at 12 milliards by others.^ The 
famous company does nothing but diminish in some measure 
the rate of interest, and facilitate the paying-off of mortgages. 
The 5 or 6 per cent annual payment includes a sinking fund, 
which gradually extinguishes the debt ; and while the mortgager 
pays his interest duly, the capital remains inconvertibly in his 
hands, and his mortgage cannot be foreclosed. This was cer- 
tainly an improvement on the old method of borrowing on mort- 
gage ; but it did not do much for agriculture. The greater part 
of the loans was granted to proprietors of houses in towns, and 
only small sums found their way into farms. Now, since the 
legislative favour shown to this society regarded solely its utility 
to agriculture, the object does not seem to be attained. The 
society itself feels this ; and it has on the one hand petitioned for 
powers which do not find a place in the original plan, and on the 
other it has founded a compagnie du credit agricole. 

And here let us stop for a moment in our course over what 
we may call the organisation of French agriculture, to take 
breath, and make some general observations. We all know the 
great reproach made against France, of her tendency to centrali- 
sation. Those who defend this tendency against its vigorous 
opponents, trust most to the argument derived from national 
unity which, they say, is due to centralisation. It might be 
replied, that as this desirable unity was attained it would be 
proper to decentralise, so as to restore the equilibrium between 
the centre and extremities. It might be added that England 
was never centralised, and yet that national unity is as perfect 
there as in France. There is no greater diflference between 
the Englishman and Scot than between the Picardian and Pro- 
ven9al; and more Bretons, Basques, Alsatians, and Flemish^ 
imable to speak French, may be found, than Irish unable to 
speak English ; and yet in France there were never such causes 
of hate as divided the English and Irish. Unity, then, has no- 
thing to do with the question. And if, by hypothesis, adminis- 
trative centralisation were still necessary to consolidate political 
unity, why need this conduct us to the Procrustean bed of eco- 
nomical centralisation? Is not agriculture essentially decen- 
tralised? Are not north and south, east and west, subject to 
difierent influences of soil and climate? Why, then, subject 
them to precisely the same conditions of labour, credit, produc- 
tion, and exchange ? Why, of all things, take from those who can 

' The Minister of Finance has calculated that the mortgage indebtedness 
amounts nominally to about 12 milliards ; but there is a great number of merely- 
formal entries, which do not constitute a real mortgage. The amount to be thus 
deducted is not known, but is generally estimated at about 7 millions. „ 

394 JgricuUure in France, 

make the best use of it, that institution which was meant especi- 
ally to aid them in their enterprises, the credit fonder ? What 
has been the consequence ? This single establishment, produced 
by the fusion of several similar ones, and centralised at Paris, 
after languishing through ten years of progress (which, according 
to the 31onitetir, filled the directors with joy), had come in 1862 
to do business to the amount of 120 millions of francs, 33 mil- 
lions of which were lent to communes, and 86 or 87 millions 
only on mortgage. Of these 87 millions, only 27 were lent to 
560 inhabitants of departments ; so that GO millions were left 
for Paris ! In old times, when a bank for real secm'ities was 
as yet reckoned among the pia desideria^ its establishment was 
asked for in the name of agriculture. Afterwards, when facts 
had spoken, a special establishment was said to be wanted for 
this x)urpose, and the credit agricole was founded. And where ? 
Why, in the centre, at Paris, where there is no agriculture. And 
so this establishment also is obliged to make a liberal interpre- 
tation of the word agricole^ to lend upon the security of grain, 
and to extend its business to such accessory matters as beetroot- 
sugar manufactories, distilleries, flour-mills, and the like. Let 
us hope that time and experience will lead to an organisation 
which will bring the one who does the service into local contact 
with those who require it. 

With excessive centralisation excessive regulation is closely 
connected. The exaggerated stringency of the law of July 17, 
1856, is the cause why so few proprietors have applied for any 
part of the 100 millions then offered to them. Up to the pre- 
sent time the sum lent is quite insignificant, in spite of the 
twenty-five years allowed for gradual reimbursement. In six 
years thirty-nine proprietors have obtained loans to the amount 
of 720,750f , applicable to the drainage of 3279 hectares. But 
144,216 hectares had been drained up to the 1st of January 1863. 
If, however, the loan is not much sought after, the gratuitous as- 
sistance of the imperial engineers is thankfully accepted. Some 
30,000 hectares have been drained under their superintendence. 
There is still much to be done in this way. There is plenty of 

Let us omit all measures of secondary importance, and come 
ut once to the famous letter of January 5, 1860, written by the 
Emperor to his minister of state. His passion for astonishing 
the world by unexpected acts is well known. It will be lucky if 
the new Jove always launches his bolts through a sky as cloud- 
less, against as real abuses and obstacles to progress. This time 
it was prohibitions that were struck ; commerce and manufac- 
tures shared with agriculture the benefits granted or promised. 
" With regard to agriculture,^' said the letter, '' it must have its 

Jgriculture m France. 393 

share in the banks for credit. To bring low woodlands under 
the plough, and to restore the woods on the high-lands ; to set 
apart a large yearly sum for great works of drainage, irrigation, 
and reclamation of lands, — these works, by changing barren 
into well-tilled communes, will enrich the communes without 
impoverishing the state, which will recover its advances by the 

sale of part of the reclaimed land One of the greatest 

services that can be done to the country is to facilitate the trans- 
port of matters of prime necessity for agriculture and manu- 
facture/' This letter was a kind of preface to the treaty of 
commerce of January 23, 18G0, and to the law of June 15, 1861, 
suppressing the sliding- scale, and substituting a fixed duty of 
50 centimes to the 100 kilogrammes for corn, as well as to the im- 
provements set forth in the Mordteur of January 21, and Febru- 
ary 3, 1860, and November 13, 1863. We will not tire the reader 
with a list of the projected improvements ; w^e will confine our- 
selves to saying that, for means of communication, France now 
possesses 16,988 kilometres of railway, 37,352 of high-road, 
561,843 of branch-roads, 1 1,250 of navigable rivers and canals, 
11,250 of which are actually traversed by boats. 

It would be curious if we could distinguish, in the progress 
of French agriculture, the improvements due to government, and 
those due to private enterprise. But it would be impossible. 
The part taken by the administration is plain enough; for it 
works solemnly, in the mass, and publishes accounts of its ex- 
penses. Private enterprise, on the contrary, generally avoids all 
show, because all that glitters, though not gold, costs gold, and 
works in detail. But a thousand individuals, each producing 
10<r, produce more than one individual producing 1000<^^ This 
reflection leads us to suppose that, even in France, where the 
administration does so much, private enterprise does even more.^ 
The existence of a proverb like aide-toi, le del faidera, ought to 
make us believe that enterprising men are not so rare in France 
as is generally supposed. 

But, in any case, it is certain that there has been much pro- 
gress since the beginning of the century, which statistics will 
enable us to measure, though not without difficulty. Accu- 
rate returns are almost wanting for one of the two epochs which 
■\ve are about to compare. We cannot rely on Arthur Young's 

^ For this opinion we need scarcely quote the authority of M. CI. Anth. 
Costaz, of the Office of Agriculture and Commerce, who, in his History of the 
Administration {ISS2, t. i. 220, note), says, "The French administration has been 
too neglectful of the suggestions of enlightened private persons. If it had aided 
in the execution of projects which a true love of the public welfare had in- 
spired, our agriculture, in several of its branches, would have developed to a 
degree that it has not yet reached." It is to be hoped that it has mended in 
this respect, and no longer despises private suggestions out of love for the 

396 Agriculture in France. 

estimates, anymore tlian on Vauban's. It is not safe to judge 
a great country by the aspect of a few square leagues. Neither 
can we rely on the illustrious Lavoisier, though he was deputy 
and commissioner of the treasury, having previously been farmer- 
general, a distinguished agricultural economist, and one who 
had studied political arithmetic all his life. He gives us only 
an estimate founded on an incomplete inventory. Chaptal, 
minister of Napoleon I., made a similar calculation, but on dif- 
ferent data ; and if we would compare the 2/750,000,000f. given 
by Lavoisier, in 1789, in his Richesse territoriale du Royaume de 
France, with the 4,678,000,000f. given by Chaptal for 1812, in 
his book De V Industrie franc.aise, we should first have to make 
important rectifications. Jb^or instance, Lavoisier excludes from his 
total both the value of the seed, which Chaptal gives at 381 mil- 
lions, and the consumption of animals attached to the farm, which 
Chaptal estimates at 863 millions. Next, if we desire to obtain 
the value of the actual products of agriculture, in spite of the 
great statistical works that have been going on for more than 
twenty years — with a success which some people question — it is 
still difficult to establish a satisfactory result. As a proof, we 
will copy from Dr. Maurice Block's Charges de V Agriculture 
dans les divers Pays de V Europe (1851) some of the estimates 
based on the official statistics of 1840 : 


Ofiicial estimate (very incomplete) . . 4527 

Estimate of Dr. Royer (with additions) . 6641 

„ „ with labourers' wages 7598 

„ of M. Moreau de Tonnes . . 6022 

„ ofDr. Maurice Block . . . 7420 

In 1852-53 a new official estimate was made, which gave for 
vegetable produce 5637 millions, and for animals 2716. The 
official document contents itself with adding these two sums, 
and making a total of 8353 millions, without thinking of sub- 
tracting at least 686 millions for forage, and of other similar 
drawbacks which probably would be found. The actual total 
then would be at most 7667 millions. But this total does not 
include the value of brandy, 64 millions (too small a sum, since 
the brandy exported in 1863 amounted to 67 millions; the actual 
value of this product is at least 150 millions), beer 63 millions, 
cider 47 millions, oil 160 millions, and raw silk 66 millions. 

The result of estimates of this kind depends on a mass of 
details, slight differences in which will affect the general totals. 
For instance, if one statistician took for his unit the price of 
corn at the barn, and another the price of corn in the market- 
place, their totals might differ by 50 per cent or more. Again, 
a statistician, wishing to show the constant progress of French 




. 12f. 



. 5 



. 1 



. 7 



. 25 



Total 50 



Agriculture in France, 397 

agriculture, begins with Vauban, and goes on to Lavoisier and 
Chaptal, basing bis continually increasing numbers on tlie au- 
thority of great names. Now Vauban, taking for his unit the 
prices of his own day, gives l,301,804,000f. as the value of agri- 
cultural products. But to cojiipare actual quantities it is clear 
that we must use the same unit ; and if we multiply by the dif- 
ference between the old and the new price of corn, we shall find 
that Vauban's sum represents a produce of 6,295,3 19,000f. ! 

With all these difficulties in our way, we can only give, with 
great diffidence, the following comparison, drawn up by the emi- 
nent economist and practical agriculturist M.Leonce de Lavergne^ 
who gives the following division of the gross produce of a hectare, 
or two acres and a half, of land at three different epochs : 

Landlord's rent 
Farmer's profit 
Miscellaneous expenses 
Land-tax and tithe 

These figures all seem to us too small, though the proportion 
between the items seems pretty exact. Perhaps the farmer's 
profit is put rather too low ; but in this particular there are great 
variations between farm and farm, and district and district. As 
we find it impossible to estimate the great totals of produce with 
any more certainty than the celebrated men to whom we have 
referred, we will confine ourselves to particular tests, which can 
be based on exact data. 

Amongst those in which we can feel most confidence is the 
census of the population. Now that of 1 789, taken from the 
registers of taxes, gave the number of inhabitants at 26,363,074. 
The soil of France had to feed 26 millions of persons ; almost all 
the corn they consumed was produced in the country. Odessa 
was not in existence ; the United States were still occupied in 
healing the wounds of the war of independence ; and the other 
corn-producing countries were cut oft' from France by the im- 
perfection of the means of transport. The country was left to 
itself; and the consequence was thus put by Arthur Young : 
^' I am so convinced, by my observations in all the provinces, 
that the population of the kingdom is out of proportion with its 
industry and its labour, that I firmly believe it would be stronger 
and infinitely more prosperous with five million inhabitants less. 
Through this excess it presents on all sides pictures of misery 
absolutely incomparable with any degree of happiness it could 

398 ^Agriculture in France, 

ever have attained, even under the old government. A traveller, 
without looking- so closely into things as I have done, Avill see 
unequivocal signs of distress every step he takes/^ Since Arthur 
Youug wrote thus, the population has risen to 37 millions, and 
distress has certainly diminished. This fact alone authorises us 
to say that agricultural produce has increased 50 per cent. The 
increase of population refutes Arthur Young^s argument ; and 
■we believe that a diminution of 5 million inhabitants, with the 
bad social organisation of the day, would not have made any 
change in the aspect of the country. In Vauban^s time there 
were 5 million inhabitants less ; and yet any one who reads his 
Dime rot/ale can see that the distress was portentous, and pro- 
bably greater than about 1789. 

The increase of population must have gone hand in hand 
with an increase of land under cultivation, or an increase in 
the production per acre, or perhaps both. The returns confirm 
this conclusion. In 1815, 4,591,000 hectares were sown with 
corn; in 1829, more than 5 millions; in 1852, 6 millions; and 
now there are more than 6,700,000 hectares. Corn has gained 
about half a million of hectares from rye, which now only takes 
two millions of hectares instead of two and a half; but it has 
made still greater inroads on the low woodlands, the downs, and 
heaths. This is one explanation of the increase of population ; 
but there is also another. According to official tables, the mean 
produce of the hectare between 1815 and 1820 oscillates about 
10 hectolitres; at present it varies from 16 to 17; and we sus- 
pect that these figures are too small. The produce, then, has 
more than doubled within the last forty or fifty years, and cer- 
tainly the people are better fed. In good years there is even an 
excess for exportation. We reckon that since 1819 the exports 
in years of abundance have been about 24 or 25 millions of hec- 
tolitres ; while in short years, which have been more frequent, 
the imports have been from 58 to 59 millions. This great im- 
portation seems to prove that the population has been in easy 
circumstances enough to pay the high price of imported grain. 

The productiveness per acre has increased partly by better 
farming, deeper ploughing, a more rational rotation of crops, or 
adaptation of them to the soil, and especially by the increase 
of manure. We speak now like certain agricultural economists, 
who look upon cattle only as so many producers of manure ; but 
the increase of domesticated animals would be a benefit, even if 
we put out of consideration the manure they produce. It is a 
remarkable fact that cattle have multiplied in France faster than 
men. Thus, the numbers of horses were, in 1812, 2,122,617 ; in 
1840, 2,818,400; in 1850, 2,983,966. Horned cattle in 1812 
were 6,681,952; in 1829, 9,130,652; in 1839, 9,936,538; in 

Agriculture in France. ^1^ 

1852, 11,285,098. Sbeep in 1829 were 29,130,233; in 1839, 
32,151,430 ; 1852, 33,510,531. Swine in 1839 were 4,910,721 ; 
and in 1852, 5,082,141.- The progress is most remarkable in 
horned cattle ; the increase is both absolute and relative. For 
every 100 hectares, there were 13 such cattle in 1812, 17 in 
1829, 19 in 1839, and 21 in 1852 ; for every 1000 inhabitants, 
there were 229 such cattle in 1812, 280 in 1829, 290 in 1839, 
and 314 in 1852. In sheep the numerical increase has been 
less remarkable ; but a great number of flocks have been much 
improved, and ordinary races replaced by good breeds. The 
horned cattle have been also improved, and their mean weight 
increased, partly by crossing, partly by improved feeding. 

Thus we see that while the population has increased about 
40 per cent, the production of grain has increased some 50 per 
cent, and that of animals probably still more, if we take account 
of their increased weight. But our picture of the progress of 
agriculture is not yet finished, because a quantity of new crops 
have been introduced. AVe will give two instances. The potato, 
which the people were so slow to adopt from Parmentier, backed 
by Lewis XVI., covered half a million hectares in 1815, and now 
covers a million hectares of the surface of France, which seems 
elastic enough to find room for all new crops. Our second instance 
is beetroot for sugar, the produce of which amounted last year to 
170,000,000 kilogrammes of sugar. It is clear, moreover, that 
the sources of employment have multiplied ; for the wages of 95 
centimes, which Arthur Young considered a high average for 
France, have, in spite of the increase of population, reached an 
average of If. 41c. according to the official tables, and If. 50c. 
according to general opinion. And this rise of wages has taken 
place in the teeth of a great number of improved implements 
introduced into husbandry. The 203 scarifiers, extirpators, and 
other implements with many teeth, counted up in 1852, are 
recent innovations. The 58,444 threshing-machines moved by 
horse-power, and the 1737 steam-machines which were going in 
the same year, had all been introduced within the last fifteen 
years. In 1862 the numbers were much larger. Steam-mowing 
and reaping-machines, and the steam-plough, have been intro- 
duced more recently ; and yet we hear the same complaints of 
the insufficient number of labourers. Will this want be any 
barrier to further progress ? We do not think so. Machinery 
has by no means done all it can do ; there is many a benighted 
farmer sliU left in France. If it be objected that the numberless 
small proprietors can never purchase such expensive implements, 
we may make two distinct replies. First, small proprietors of 
this kind do not want these implements. They are not the 
persons who complain of the want of hands ; they rather com- 

400 Agriculture in France. 

plain of the want of land. Secondly, there are already persons 
in several districts of France, as in England, who do agricul- 
tural work by contract, and carry their moveable engine and 
their threshing-machine from village to village. The number of 
these men may be increased; and their increase will be of special 
service to proprietors of the second class, who, with those of the 
first class, make the loudest lamentation over the emigration of 
rural labourers into the towns. 

This desertion of the country is no special characteristic of 
France, neither is it confined to one epoch. It was talked of 
even before 1789, though the existence of trading monopolies 
and guilds, and the almost total absence of manufactories, made 
it much more difficult to find employment in towns than it is 
now. But nowhere were the complaints so loud as in France. 
Arthur Young, who considered the towns to be too thinly scat- 
tered and too small for the population of so large a country, 
would have been much astonished at these complaints. He thought 
that it was the net produce which enriched the cultivators, and 
that this net produce was composed in part of what other people 
gave them for their grain, their vegetables, their wine, their 
fruit, and their meat. Agriculture, he said, — and most people 
have said the same after him, — has need of consumers to make 
it prosper. This axiom is elementary, evident, and uncontro- 
verted by the opposite considerations which are brought against 
it. It might, if necessary, be proved by statistics. The depart- 
ments where agricultural production is most advanced are almost 
always those where manufacturing industry is most developed. 
Such are the departments of the Nord, the Lower Seine, the 
Pas de Calais, the Seine and Oise, Seine and Marne, and so on. 
Those where agriculture is poorest, such as the Lozere and the 
Lot, are also the least industrial. It is unlucky that material 
and moral prosperity do not seem to go hand in hand. One of 
the great problems of the day is to find means to remedy this 

This migration into the towns must not be confounded with 
the migrations of labourers from one district to another for hay- 
making, harvest, or vintage. A statistical enquiry into this 
subject shows that 266,769 men and 98,328 women emigrate 
periodically from poorer districts to look for work in richer ones, 
while 529,509 men and 353,891 women immigrate into the 
richer districts during the harvest and vintage. The immense 
difierence between these figures may be explained partly by the 
number of Belgian and other foreign labourers whose emigration 
is not noted, and partly by the fact that the labourer Avho only 
emigrates from one place immigrates successively into several. 
With the multiplication of locomobile machinery the numbers 

Agriculture in France, 461 

of these nomad labourers will diminish, and they will be forced 
to look for new employments, which they will probably have 
little difficulty in finding. 

We have not yet, however, exhausted our list of tests whereby 
we can measure the progress of agriculture ; but, in order not 
to multiply figures, we will only add one fact. In 1821 the 
Minister of Finances had an estimate made of the selling value 
of the land, houses, and buildings; and the total amounted to 
39,514,000,000f. In 1851 another estimate was made; and the 
result gave a total of 83,744,000,000f The value, therefore, had 
more than doubled ; yet in 1851 the country had not recovered 
from the panic of 1848. And we should not be going beyond 
the mark to estimate the total for 1863 at 120 milliards. This 
sum includes all real property in town or country. In 1851, out 
of the 834 milliards, about QQ represented farm-property ; so 
that, it is clear, the value of this kind of property had quite kept 
pace with that of houses. 

We consider that French agriculture has by no means reached 
the perfection it is destined to attain to. Private enterprise is 
taking every day a more important place in it. It is already on 
the watch to note the progress made in other countries. It is 
ready to adopt or to try any new processes which promise to 
be improvements. By degrees we shall see the administration 
beaten in the race by some enterprising and ardent agriculturists; 
and after a time its business will be confined to noting and 
acknowledging the progress made, and, if it still likes solemn 
parade, to distributing its primes d'honneur. 

[ 402 ] 



No measure, probably, has ever had so much good and evil said 
of it, without any real understanding of its true character, as 
the famous Bank Charter Act of 1844. It has been the inces- 
sant subject of passionate comment for many years. Committees 
of the Houses of Parliament have sat in judgment upon it; hosts 
of witnesses, many of great commercial and intellectual emi- 
nence, have recorded their opinions on its presumed effects; 
ponderous Blue-books have thrown multitudes of questions and 
answers upon the world; — and yet to this very hour scarcely 
any two men are agreed as to its nature, its provisions, or its 

This fact is surpassingly strange, yet it has an easy explana- 
tion. The Bank Act of 1844 was the child of theory, whilst, in 
fact, its enactments are peculiarly practical, and are scarcely 
tainted with any colour of theory. It has been loudly pro- 
claimed in the name of theory, and as loudly assailed on grounds 
of theory. Angry combatants have fought over it in defence of 
conflicting views ; and the last thing they have thought of has 
been to study and discover its true nature by what it enacts, 
instead of by the doctrines which it was supposed to contain. 
And thus it has happened that its real character has remained 
obscured and buried under the weight of irrelevant controversy. 

It is a very characteristic illustration of the sort of discussion 
which has raged so long about this unhappy statute, that when 
its reputed parent was asked at the opening of his examination 
by the chairman of the committee of the House of Commons, in 
1857, whether the enactments which he enumerated were not the 
leading provisions of the Act, Lord Overstone, instead of giving 
a direct answer to the question, instantly flew off into theory, 
and that, as wc shall show presentl}^, a most unintelligible and 
ludicrous theory. He would not consent to discuss what the mea- 
sure was; he would have nothing but doctrines on currency and 
banking; and what sort of things currency doctrines have been 
the world by this time has learned by a miserable experience. 

It is our object in the present article to clear up, if possible, 
the existing confusion, and to extricate from beneath the accu- 
mulated rubbish the true nature and character of the Bank 
Act of 1841. To this end, we shall first of all state the posi- 
tive enactments of the Act, such as they are in themselves, 
independently of every theory, whether of friends or opponents ; 
and that done, we shall endeavour in the next place to put 

The Bank Charter Act. 403 

such an interpretation on its provisions as is suggested and 
warranted solely by what tliey prescribe, equally without re- 
ference to any doctrines of currency or banking which that 
interpretation may confirm or impugn. When we have thus 
obtained a clear view of the Act, — the true Act, and not 
the imaginative and fictitious creation of currency mystics, 
— we shall notice some of the extravagant assertions which, 
have been made as to the design and import of this mea- 

The main enactments of the law of 1844 on the Charter of 
the Bank of England are five. 

1. It separates the function of the issue of bank-notes from 
the banking business of the Bank of England. 

2. It ordains that the Bank of England shall assign fourteen 
millions of government securities to the Issue Department, and 
shall receive from it fourteen millions of bank-notes ; and it 
orders that department to issue to the public notes for any quan- 
tity of gold-bullion which may be lodged with it for the purchase 
of such notes, and to repay sovereigns on demand for all notes 
presented to it by the public. 

3. It limits the issues of notes by country banks, according 
to the average of their circulation up to a certain time. 

4. It prohibits the establishment of new country banks of 

5. It provides that, if any of the country banks should cease 
to issue notes, the Bank of England shall be authorised to issue 
notes, without any deposit of securities or bullion, to the extent 
of two-thirds of the lapsed issues of such country banks. 

It is plain, from the first clause of this statement, that the 
Bank of England is placed by this law upon the same footing as 
every other bank in the kingdom. It is only the largest bank 
amongst many others, with a special and very big customer — the 
Government. On the other hand, the Issue Department is really 
and truly made an office of the state, working by purely mecha- 
nical rules — an automaton, whose movements are destitute of all 
volition and control, obeying a fixed self-acting rule, without 
intellect, thought, or opinion. The Bank of England supplies 
the requisite machinery to this automaton : it furnishes premises, 
clerks, ledgers, paper, vaults, and pens and ink, and then leaves 
it to act of itself That department, working thus in certain 
rooms provided by the Bank of England, simply responds to the 
impulses impressed on it by the public. When five sovereigns 
are dropped into its hand, a note is mechanically passed across 
the counter. When the same note reappears on another day, 
the operation is reversed : the sovereigns are given out ; the 
note is called in and cancelled. And this action the automaton 

VOL. IV. e e 

404 The Bank Charter Act. 

repeats as often as any living mortal sets it goiog by the pre- 
sentation of a note or sovereigns. 

In the rooms allotted to the automaton, the governor of the 
Bank of England, or any of its directors, stands on precisely the 
same level as every other member of the community. He can 
get notes for his gold, or gold for his notes. He can obtain 
supplies for his bank, the Bank of England, in identically the 
same way as the chairman of the London and Westminster Bank, 
or Smith, Payne, and Smiths procure the supplies they need, 
whether of gold or notes. In the Issue Department of its pre- 
mises, the Bank of England appears as a private bank, and abso- 
lutely as nothing else. It can give no order whatever about the 
notes issued under its name, and can in no manner whatever 
control or guide the action of the automaton. 

It is much to be regretted that the Act did not bestow a 
distinct and independent name on the office which was to exer- 
cise the function of issue. Its framers evidently had not thought 
out their own enactments to the bottom ; they did not fully per- 
ceive that they were creating an absolutely separate and inde- 
pendent body. The names of Banking and Issue Departments, 
coupled with the fact that the bank-note still carries the name of 
the Bank of England on its front, and is signed in behalf of that 
corporation, have perpetuated the illusion that the thing done was 
the division of one and the same body into two subordinate de- 
partments; a most thorough error, the prolific parent of con- 
tusion of thought, endless labyrinths of theorj^, and intermin- 
able lengths of most unprofitable questions and answers. Only 
those who have travelled much in these regions can be aware of 
the frightful and wearisome absurdities which have been generated 
by the absence from the Act of a positive declaration that it was 
creating a new body with a new name. The omission of every 
allusion to the Bank of England in the automaton's note would 
have rescued countless minds from hopeless perplexity. There 
were excellent reasons why the business of issuing the public 
notes should be continued on the premises of the Bank of Eng- 
land ; for it had the means of doing the work more cheaply than 
any other body could have done it, and the convenience both to 
the Bank and the great money-dealers in the City of having 
immediate access to the stores of gold and notes is immense. 
But there was no valid reason for not giving an independent 
title to the new establishment of issue. Till general use has 
sanctioned some other name, we propose to designate the Issue 
Department by that of the " bank mint ;'' for in reality it is a 
mint which has lodgings at the Bank. 

The second provision of the Act, first of all, gives to the Bank 
of England the profit of the dividends on the securities lodged at 

The Bank Charier Act. 405 

the bank mint for the fourteen millions of notes which are given 
to the Bank. The remainder of the public get no profit from the 
bullion which they deposit with the mint_, in return for the notes 
procured by its means ; they simply obtain, in return for the lodg- 
ment of an expensive commodity, a voucher or warrant, which is 
empowered to circulate as legal tender for the payment of debts. 
That voucher, the bank-note, possesses qualities which in many 
of the transactions of commerce confer a great superiority on it 
over coin. It is far lighter in weight, is more easily carried and 
guarded, is more rapidly counted and dealt out, and, by means of 
the number it bears, admits of being more readily traced and pro- 
tected. It is certain, therefore, that there will always exist a 
considerable demand for such paper currency in preference to 
coin ; and the Act, by providing for its issue, satisfies an acknow- 
ledged and legitimate want of the public. 

It is further clear that the bullion deposited in the bank 
mint furnishes complete security for the payment of all notes 
presented to the mint, as far as it goes ; but there is an admitted 
ambiguity as to the provision made for the solvency of the four- 
teen millions, which were assigned to the Bank of England against 
the deposit of government securities, and which will remain un- 
covered by sovereigns when the vaults of the mint have been 
emptied. The question can arise only on the occurrence of one or 
other of two very improbable suppositions : the quantity, namely, 
of bank-notes desired by the public sinking below fourteen mil- 
lions, or a bankruptcy of the Bank of England with less than 
20s. in the pound for its creditors. In the case of either of these 
two events, it is not clear to whom the securities deposited at 
the Bank belong, — whether to the mint, which could sell them 
at its pleasure, or to the Bank of England, and, by implication, 
to its creditors. The construction which ought to be placed upon 
the Act is confessedly obscure, and opinions seem to be about 
equally divided on the point. Our own leads us to the belief 
that these securities are specifically pledged to the note-holders, 
and could not be claimed as an asset of the Bank by its creditors 
in the event of bankruptcy ; but a legal judgment alone can de- 
cide the point. The public, however, may console itself with the 
reflection, that the historically unbroken credit of the Bank 
of England, and the improbability of a foreign invasion, divest 
the danger of all practical importance ; though we do not think 
it quite so impossible that the day may come when less than 
fourteen millions of bank-notes may not become enough for 
the wants of the public by the multiplication of banking expe- 
dients. In such case, the question will be easily solved by some 
enactment respecting the disposal of these securities. 

It is certain, therefore, that the portion of the circulation of 

406 The Bank Charter Act. 

Bauk-of-England notes above fourteen millions, and, if the opi- 
nion of ^Ir. Hubbard and other eminent witnesses as well as our 
own is correct, the whole amount of that circulation is covered, 
in respect of solvency, by an adequate protection; and more- 
over gold is actually provided, ready for immediate payment, for 
every note above the fourteen millions. These are the direct 
enactments of the Act. 

And further, — and this is a point of extreme importance for 
theoretical discussion, — it is manifest that no restriction of any 
kind is placed on the issues of Bank-of-England notes by the 
Act of 1844 — no limitation whatever of their numbers. If the 
public chooses, it may get 100 millions of these notes. It must 
buy them with gold, no doubt, or, if the phrase is preferred, it 
must deposit gold against their issue. But if any causes placed 
any large quantity of bullion in the hands of the public, and it 
was stored away at the mint in exchange for vouchers or notes, 
the Act of 1844 imposes no limitation whatever on the numbers 
of the notes which may be thus obtained from the bank mint. 
A¥e say nothing in this place as to the probability of such an oc- 
currence, nor of the causes which may lead to it, nor of the results 
it may generate. Our business here is simply to ascertain what 
the Act enacts or permits. It may be said, of course, that the 
expensiveness of the notes — the sovereigns required to obtain 
them — constitute a very real limitation on their numbers. This 
may be so ; only, if there be such a limitation, it is one of the 
same kind identically as the limitation on demand imposed by 
the costliness of champagne or grapes, or any other commodity. 
On this point we shall have more to say presently. 

The third provision of the Act left the notes of country bankers 
in circulation in 1844 untouched. Their numbers cannot be 
increased ; but they were allowed to circulate as before, with no 
other provision for their solvency, or for the reserve of gold to be 
kept in hand for paying them on demand, than what existed be- 
fore the passing of the Act. Any of these country banks of issue 
may still fail, and, as far as the law goes, may pay their note- 
holders half-a-crown in the pound. 

But the fourth provision, along with the prohibition of in- 
creased numbers in the third, arrests the growth of such a sys- 
tem, and renders its ultimate extinction, by amalgamation or 
other processes, highly probable. Country banks of issue, like 
every thing else, come to an end; and, as they cannot revive 
in their progeny, the race, if the law continues unchanged, is 
doomed to disappear. 

Such are the facts of the law. What is their interpretation? 
What principles do they embody ? Of what elements are they 
composed ? 

The Bank Charter Act. 407 

It is a law on currency : to the science of currency, therefore, 
must it be taken to be measured and judged. The value of the 
judgment pronounced will consequently depend on the accuracy 
with which the science of currency is understood by the judges. 
But, alas, where shall we find these judges ? From which school 
shall we select them ? Who shall give us a clear and intelli- 
gible statement of the teaching of that science ? And yet we 
cannot pronounce upon the law of 1844 without some definite 
rule to apply to it ; so we must lay down for ourselves and our 
readers the principles of currency on which our decision will 
be founded. We shall not prove them here by a formal in- 
vestigation ; we shall simply state them in the form in which we 
hold them. 

Currency is the science of the instruments of exchange, and 
of nothing else. Such instruments have been devised for two 
purposes: to supersede barter, which is incompatible with the 
existence of a large society and the progress of civilisation, and 
to furnish a measure by which the value of all commodities shall 
be ascertained. For these ends, a single commodity, generally 
gold or silver, is selected, with which every form of property is 
compared; so that value comes to mean the quantity of one 
commodity which is equivalent to a quantity of another. The 
value of a bale of cotton means in England the quantity of gold 
which is given in exchange for it, or its equivalent; and just as 
the gold measures the cotton, so the cotton measures the gold. 
The two commodities stand upon a perfect level; and the re- 
spective amounts of each given in exchange, one for the other, 
are determined solely by the intrinsic worth of each, by their 
ultimate cost of production. If cotton becomes more plentiful, 
gold remaining the same, more cotton is given for gold ; the 
price of cotton falls : on the other hand, if gold is produced in 
greater abundance and cheapness — cotton standing still — more 
gold will be required as a set-off" for the cotton; the price of 
cotton rises, or, in other words, the price of gold falls. This 
relative cost of production alone regulates prices ; and the selec- 
tion of one of the commodities, gold, as the standard and measure 
of value, has not a particle of influence on the determination of 
prices. Currency has nothing to do with the regulation of prices; 
it merely supplies the rule or instrument of measure. 

To meet the convenience and the wants of daily buying and 
selling, small portions of this measuring commodity, of fixed 
weight and quality of material, are made and authenticated by a 
government stamp, and are called pounds, shillings, and so on ; 
mere names, which determine nothing as to their value, nothing 
as to the amount of commodities which the owners of all other 
property will give for them. These small instruments of exchange, 

408 The Bank Charter Act, 

these coins, are pure machines made to perform a certain 
work, in the same manner identically as ploughs are constructed 
for tillage, carriages for conveyance, chairs to sit upon, and 
watches to measure time by ; they are all machines for effecting 
a particular duty ; and there is absolutely no difference between 
coins and any of the rest, except in the particular kind of work 
they are employed to accomplish. And as there may be too 
many ploughs on a farm, too many carriages in a gentleman's 
stables, and too many chairs in a room, so there may be too 
many coins in a given country; too many, that is, for the work 
they have to do, for the exchanges which require to be effected 
by them. A gentleman may have more sovereigns than he can 
conveniently carry ; a shopkeeper may be inundated with shil- 
lings ; a bank may be gorged with gold that it cannot use. In 
all such cases the result is one and the same : the surplus coin 
gravitates to some common reservoir, where it lies useless, and 
as destitute of all action or effect as the superfluous harrows 
that slumber under a farmer's shed. These coins may equally 
be too few as well as too many ; an occurrence which frequently 
befalls shillings, and very rarely sovereigns, in particular locali- 
ties in England. As a fact of experience, and wholly irrespec- 
tively of theory, we hold it to be certain that since 1819 gold has 
always been in excess in England — that there has always been 
more gold in this country than is wanted for carrying on ex- 
change and the general business of the people, including the 
fitting reserve which all bankers must keep as a natural part of 
their stock in trade. 

In no civilised country can all the exchanges of property, all 
purchases in shops and warehouses, be carried on by the agency 
of coin alone. Property is bought and sold by means of bills, of 
cheques drawn on bankers, and, most of all, of book-credit — that 
is, items of debt entered in the books of traders. These are not 
actual payments, real exchanges of one commodity for another, 
but mere promises to pay, pledges for payment enforced by law, 
for which it is found men are willing to give away their goods. 
Some of these instruments of exchange, such as bills, and not 
Tinfrequently cheques, are passed on from hand to hand before 
they are finally presented for a real payment in gold : and as in 
this way they effect many exchanges before they are ultimately 
extinguished, it is obvious that these instruments collectively 
supersede to an enormous extent the otherwise inevitable use of 
coin; whilst they possess this transcendent economy, that the 
bits of paper they are written on cost nothing, whilst the coins 
they supersede would have been necessarily purchased from 
abroad with a heavy cost of English jiroducts and capital. They 
furnish also the additional advantage, that they avoid the loss, 

The Bank Charter Act. 409 

whicli is by no means inconsiderable^ of tlie wear and tear of the 
metal whicli it suffers in daily circulation. 

The one distinguishing characteristic of these mere promises 
to pay — these bills, cheques, and book-credits — is, that the accept- 
ance of them is entirely voluntary on the part of the creditor ; no 
man being obliged to take them as a legal discharge of his debt. 
Bat there is a variety of the cheque which occupies a partially 
different position — the bank-note, the public cheque, so to say, 
which a banker draws upon himself, and promises to pay in coin 
on demand. In essence it is identical with the private cheque, 
being merely a promise to pay, and effecting exchanges of pro- 
perty in precisely the same manner, and frequently not circu- 
lating, before its cancelment, through so many hands as many a 
private cheque. But it is also invested with a sort of semi-pub- 
lic character. As a rule, the private cheque does not circulate ; 
it effects one purchase or aggregate of purchases, and is immedi- 
ately sent in for payment. The reason of this fact is plain. The 
value of the private cheque depends on the solvency of a private 
person, and the state of his account at his banker's ; and for the 
mass of men this is too frail a protection against non-payment 
to allow of this cheque being long kept in circulation. It is 
otherwise with the bank-note. The Bank is a semi-public in- 
stitution ; whilst the immense superiority of the note over the 
sovereign in convenience, portableness, and security against rob- 
bery, induces the public to employ it in preference to the sove- 
reign. It circulates, therefore, in town and market; and its 
acceptance is scarcely voluntary ; for a tradesman vrho should 
refuse to take the notes current in his locality would expose him- 
self, not only to ill-will and want of custom, but often to positive 
inability sell his goods. To this half-compulsory character the 
state has added, in the case of the Bank-of-England note, the 
quality of legal tender; that is, the full compulsory obligation 
on every creditor to accept it as the discharge of his debt. 

It is obvious that the worth of a promise to pay consists in 
the certainty of payment when demanded. As the law compels 
no one to accept a private cheque, it is the business of the man 
who gives property in exchange for it to consider for himself the 
prospects of payment. It is his affair to weigh the value of the 
signature, and the chances of there being money in the signer's 
account at the bank. But the public cannot easily act thus with 
a bank-note ; they are more or less obliged to take the notes in 
circulation : and in the case of the Bank-of-England note, they 
must perforce accept it. Hence the need of some legal provision 
to ensure the solvency of the public cheque or note ; and on one 
point of this provision all the world is agreed. The only means 
for keeping the value of the promise on a level with the actual 

410 The Bank Charter Act, 

payment is the peremptory obligation on the issuer to pay it on 
demand. Without complete convertibility, the promise to pay 
is insecure, and immediately becomes exposed to a peculiar and 
formidable danger. The utmost harm of superfluous sovereigns 
is that they are compelled to lie idle; they are expelled, like 
drones, from the circulation, and are sent to sleep in the cellars. 
But inconvertible notes, green-backed promises to pay for which 
no payment can be demanded, may be sent forth in unlimited 
numbers, and, which is the pinch of the matter, stay out in unli- 
mited numbers. If a tradesman finds that twenty sovereigns will 
do the day^s work of his till, and he has thirty, he will send oft' 
ten to his banker, who will forward them to the cellars in Thread- 
needle Street. No more sovereigns remain out than there is work 
for. But if the notes are issued as they are now by the American 
government, and, the valve opening one way only, cannot be sent 
back again when not wanted, they quickly expand into excessive 
numbers, far beyond what the exchanges to be effected require. 
Hence every holder is anxious to part from them, and, finding 
no outlet, consents to part from them at a loss ; they sink to a 
discount, and there is no fixed limit for that discount if the 
inconvertible issues are continued. 

Convertibility, then, or the obligation to pay on demand under 
pain of bankruptcy, is acknowledged to be the one vital indis- 
pensable condition for a paper currency which shall remain on a 
level with coin, and shall guarantee its holders against w^hat 
really can hardly be called less than robbery. But other con- 
ditions for a paper circulation have come under discussion ; we 
shall notice some of these when we speak in detail of the provi- 
sions of the Bank Act of 1844. 

Such is the substance of the science of currency, — such the 
rule by which we purpose to judge the enactments which we 
have to consider. We now proceed to perform this task. 

1. The first feature which this Act presents to the enquirer is 
the very marked characteristic, that it is purely and exclusively 
a currency law. Its first deed is to cut currency and banking 
clean asunder, thereby acknowledging one of the most funda- 
mental principles of currency. It creates an establishment of 
currency, taking away from a bank — the Bank of England — all 
control over the management of the currency, and erecting in its 
place a manufactory of currency, a mint, a factory and shop for 
the production and sale of certain machines. The bank mint 
which it establishes is a genuinely sister institution to the Royal 
Mint of the government. The one sells pure metal only; the 
other two sorts of machines — one of paper, the other of metal. 
The regulations vary only in the necessary details and adapta- 
tions ; in principle, in essence, in action on commerce, the two 

The Bank Charter Act. . 411 

institutions are perfectly alike. There is not a trace of banking 
from the first to the last line of the statute ; it is a set of mint 
regulations — nothing more. No one has ever said that the issue 
of sovereigns and shillings by the Royal Mint has any thing to do 
with discount or rates of interest, or banking reserves, or supplies 
of capital to the public ; and no one ought ever to have said that 
the bank mint has any relation whatsoever to these matters. 
The banker^s trade is one thing ; the supply of instruments of 
exchange — of coin, or its special substitute, the note — is an- 
other. No one has ever connected the building of steamers with 
deposits and commercial crises or tight money markets ; and no 
one ought ever to have connected them with the fabrication and 
sale of those particular machines which transfer property from 
one man to another, just as cranes haul cargoes out of ships. 
The Act of 1844 does not contain one single word of encourage- 
ment or sanction for such a delusion. And yet is it not marvel- 
lous that the Committees of the House of Commons, which were 
appointed for the very purpose of examining the character and 
effects of this statute, never from first to last understood its 
exclusively manufacturing and shopkeeping nature? Members 
and witnesses alike, all came to the investigation incurably 
tainted with the belief that the Act had banking effects ; that 
somehow it had influence on the supplies of capital in the 
money market ; that it had peculiar effects on trade ; and that, 
in one way or other, it was something different from the ma- 
chinery which made hats or manufactured yarns, or supplied 
any other want of civilised society. Had it been clearly per- 
ceived that currency has no more to do with banking than with 
brewing, that vast multitude of questions and answers under 
which the Committee groaned for so many days during the two 
years of enquiry would have been nipped in the bud and never 
have come into existence. It would have been seen that, with 
very few exceptions, the attention of the Committee had been 
occupied with totally irrelevant matter, — with investigations 
which might just as rationally have been addressed to the car- 
pet or to the cotton trade as to the Act of 1844. Enquiries 
into crises, difficulties of discount, pressure on banking reserves, 
mercantile credit, over-speculation and over-trading, and rates 
of interest charged by the Bank of England, would have been 
at once struck out from an investigation which had to con- 
sider a regulation of currency. No wonder, therefore, at the 
perplexity which presses so uncomfortably on the reader as he 
goes over the subtle but- most misty utterances of so many emi- 
nent men. The very subtlety and acuteness of their intelligence 
only seem to involve their thoughts in still deeper obscurity ; for 
when once launched on a false hypothesis, when hopelessly com- 

412 The Bank Charter Act. 

mitted to the assumption that phenomena of banking were re- 
lated to currency, the power of their minds produced only a 
succession of desperate plunges, to escape from the confusion 
which they were conscious of labouring under. An error in a 
primary premiss always generates a long progeny of disorder; 
and there is scarcely one of these many thousand questions and 
answers which did not feel the effects of the original sin. 

2. We remark, secondly, that this bank mint is not under 
the control of the government ; this is an enormous merit. 
B-easons for and against placing the issue of bank-notes in 
the hands of a bank, or of a private company constructed for 
that special purpose, may be urged with real force on both sides ; 
but not a single good reason can be pleaded in defence of a direct 
issue of promises to pay by a government. The vital condition 
of convertibility would be destroyed at the core. The promises 
of a government to pay on demand are the worst that can pos- 
sibly be conceived. There is a perpetual power, through sheer 
strength or immoveableness, not to fulfil the promise; and no 
adequate force can be framed which can at all times be relied on 
for compelling a government to provide money when demanded. 
A bank or a private company may be declared bankrupt, and 
to them bankruptcy is ruin ; but a government would bear with 
great equanimity the reproach that there was no gold in store 
for its notes. The medieval kings made no scruple of adulterat- 
ing the coin of the realm ; modern governments are very lax 
about making good their obligations to pay notes on demand. 
Austria and America have shown very conspicuously how much 
can be done in that direction. An English government, suddenly 
obliged to send a large military chest abroad, would find little 
difficulty in persuading a parliament bent on war that the best 
thing to be done was to send the currency reserves to Malta or 
Canada. Currency would be swamped in politics, and a safe 
circulation of paper would be at an end. The automaton created 
by the Act is, no doubt, an institution of the state; for it has no 
connection with the Bank of England, and it derives its powers 
and organisation from the law alone. But it is an automaton ; 
and its unintelligent self- working machinery lies locked up in a 
case, of which the government does not, and it is to be hoped 
never will, possess a key. 

3. Thirdly, it is plain that the fundamental principle of per- 
fect convertibility is thoroughly carried out by the Act of 1 844. 
This is the essence of a sound paper currency ; and it is not to 
be disputed that, in this respect, the Act of 1844 conforms to the 
requirements of the highest science. Fourteen millions of notes 
are made safe by the deposit of seciuritics, pledged, as we believe, 
for their protection ; and the remainder of the notes possess an 

The Bank Charter Act, MS 

equal amount of precious metal, ready at a moment's notice to 
be produced, and under positive orders of ]aw to be paid over to 
any holder claiming tbeir redemption. The reserve is of the 
amplest, and is always at hand. Anxiety is out of the question ; 
for it is barely possible that the public should ever require so 
few as fourteen millions of bank-notes. It is too useful, too 
convenient a currency, too admirably fitted a machinery for the 
settlement of accounts in the throng and stir of the City, not to 
be in large and perpetual demand. The automaton is an in- 
surmountable bulwark against the robbery and the disasters of 
inconvertible notes. 

4. Fourthly, the Act provides a reserve of gold to meet notes 
presented for payment — a perfectly ample reserve, as we have 
just stated ; and it regulates the action of that reserve by a novel 
and peculiar arrangement. Inconvertible notes require no re- 
serve, for there is no obligation in their case to fulfil the pro- 
mise to pay ; but convertible paper of necessity implies a reserve, 
a supply of gold that shall be equal to the demand, not only of 
ordinary, but also of extraordinary times. The Act of 1844 de- 
termines this reserve by the fixed and unchangeable adjustment 
of a line drawn at fourteen millions (strictly, now, fourteen and 
a half millions) of notes, for which solvency, but not gold, is pro- 
vided, and a compulsory deposit of gold for every pound above 
these fourteen millions. It assumes that such a reserve will be 
sufficient for all possible demands ; and it is incontestable that 
this assumption is well founded. 

But here two very important and very debateable questions 
immediately arise. First : is the drawing of a fixed line, beyond 
which all issues of notes must have a foundation of gold in the 
cellar, the best and most efficient machinery for managing the 
reserve ? and, secondly, is fourteen and a half millions the true 
point at which the Act ought to have drawn the line ? 

The first question, the fixed line or limit, is resolved at once 
in the affirmative, if the method of a self-acting machine, an 
automaton, is adopted for the issue of bank-notes : it is the sim- 
plest, the most direct, and the least complicated arrangement 
which could be applied to such a brainless organisation. But it 
is otherwise if the issue is allotted to a bank, or a special com- 
pany, or any other intelligent body. A fixed line, on the very 
face of the matter, implies a reflection on the wisdom or the 
intelligence of the issuer, a distrust of his prudence and judg- 
ment. As such it is indefensible; because it involves the ad- 
mission, that the mind selected for the control of the issues is 
in reality unfitted for the task. It contains a contradiction in 
principle ; and all contradictions generate evil. It is easy to per- 
ceive the absurdities which it would perpetrate. The reserve 

414 Tlie Bank Charter Act. 

must be prepared to face all possible demands; and the fixea 
limit, if sound, must be so drawn as to have a supply of metal 
for the maximum of demand, for the largest quantity of gold 
which the public may require. No one needs to be told that 
such a quantity immensely exceeds what is asked for in calm and 
steady times ; and what sense would there be in requiring an 
experienced and intelligent issuer to bury in lock*ed-up vaults 
treasure capable of being applied to purposes profitable both to 
himself and the community ? A very bad harvest, we know, 
creates a sudden and vast importation of corn, for which, usually, 
the payment is in bullion : at such a season the exchange of notes 
for gold will be at its largest. But reverse the supposition, and 
imagine a bountiful crop just safely gotten into the garners : is 
a thinking man to be required to keep the same stock of bullion, 
which he knows will not be applied for, as he did when all the 
exchanges of corn-growing countries were enforcing remittances 
of bullion ? Such a restriction is an imputation on his good 
sense, and his capacity to administer ; it proclaims that the task 
of adapting a reserve to the fluctuating wants of the public for 
a particular commodity transcends the human faculties, or too 
severely tempts human weakness : and if the charge be true, the 
automaton becomes inevitably the right and only instrument of 
issue. A fixed limit, and issue of paper currency by intelligent 
minds, we hold to be two inconsistent and, in the long-run, 
incompatible things. 

Well, then, this being so, is an automaton, an irrational agent, 
the only safe, the only natural and legitimate instrument for the 
management of a currency of notes? How is it possible, we 
reply, to maintain such a proposition in the face of the fact that 
the Bank of England did, from 1819 to the time of the passing of 
this Act, so manage its notes as that they never sufiered at any 
moment a breath of depreciation, and all through that period 
supplied England with a perfectly convertible, sound, and ever- 
trusted currency of paper ? How can such an assertion be made 
in the teeth of a highly- developed currency of notes in Scot- 
land, founded on an exceedingly slender reserve of gold, work- 
ing with unbroken success for more than a century, efiecting an 
unrivalled economy of expensive coin, and intensely valued by 
the population? Theorists may choose to say that the conver- 
tibility of the bank-note was in great danger at various times, 
and that the paper notes of Scotland are inadequately sustained; 
but fact and science rebut the charge. Every practical witness 
declares that at no time has the Bank-of-Eugland note, since 
cash payments have ceased to be forbidden, held its head lower 
than the sovereign ; at no time has the public preferred gold 
as safer and sounder than the note. The Bank's reserve, its re- 

The Bank Charter Act, 415 

serve as banker, has often been sorely pressed to supply money 
to claimants ; but the difficulty has lain in finding notes as much 
as gold, for the public was indifierent which of the two they 
carried away. Never was there a greater run upon the Bank 
than in 1825 ; but the thing which saved its solvency was the 
discovery of one million of unburnt one-pound notes. They were 
greedily taken by the public, so perfectly at that terrible mo- 
ment was the note the equal and the match of gold. Great 
authorities have chosen to say that the bank-note was then ex- 
posed to imminent peril ; but the very reverse is the truth. The 
bank-note then, as now, or at any period since 1819, has never 
been exposed to the slightest risk of depreciation or insolvency ; 
and what fact reveals science ratifies. It tells us that the sol- 
vency of a truly responsible issuer is a complete and sufficient 
guarantee for convertibility; and it accepts the evidence supplied 
by experience, that the Bank of England and the Bank of Scot- 
land have been found to be truly solvent and responsible issuers, 
and have furnished practical and trustworthy security for sol- 
vency and convertibility. If the Bank Act of 18i4 and the 
automaton have created a solvent and convertible currency, the 
Bank of England and the Bank of Scotland have done the 
same. The theoretical machinery of the Act has not produced, 
in the estimate of science, results one iota more valuable or 
trustworthy than the practical management of these private 

But, exclaim the authorities, look at the awful state of the bul- 
lion in 1825, 1847, and at other terrible periods ; see how fright- 
fully the note was brought to the edge of the precipice; the 
country was within an ace of the suspension of cash payments. 
The wrong inference, we reply. See with how little gold the huge 
fabric of the Bank-of-England circulation was and can be trium- 
phantly sustained. Amidst the terror of traders and the crash of 
perishing firms, when panic convulsed every mind, and the best 
houses trembled for existence ; when money was impossible, dis- 
count not to be had, the rate of interest rising, and the City on 
the verge of annihilation ; — one thing, and one thing only, stood 
proudly unshaken and unshakeable amidst the howling storm. 
Bank directors had lent away all their deposits ; commerce in 
vain shrieked for more relief; the foundations of the Bank itself 
tottered ; but its note never lost the public confidence for one 
instant. Not for a second did any terrified spirit — neither, we 
venture to assert. Lord Overstone nor Mr. Norman — feel the 
remotest wish to ask for gold when the note was ofiered. And 
why was this ? Because it was a mere tool, an instrument of 
currency, and an agent only for transferring ownership; be- 
cause its solvency was unquestioned, and its numbers in no 

416 The Bank Charter Jet, 

excess over the daily requirements of the public ; because, in a 
word, it had nothing to do with banking and its incidents, its 
prosperity or its disasters. Let no man assert, therefore, that 
any measure was needed to protect (such is the phrase) the con- 
vertibiHty of the note. The bank-note never fell under a cloud, 
never felt a whiff of danger, before 1844. It has been safe since 
the Bank Act ; it was equally safe before. It rests, doubtless, 
on a larger reserve now than it did then ; but if a house is per- 
fectly solid, nothing is gained by surrounding it with extra but- 
tresses. What deceived the world was the actual smallness of 
the Bank's reserve, and the manifest strain it was suffering. But 
it was forgotten that that reserve was a combined resource for 
banking and currency liabilities conjoined : and men failed to 
perceive that the portion needed for paying notes on demand 
was a trifle ; that the remainder, its incomparably larger part, 
belonged to the banking business, and was plainly becoming 
inadequate ; and that all the agitation among traders, and all 
the danger to the Bank, threatened its banking affairs alone. If 
a lesson was to be learnt from these fearful days, it was, as we 
have stated above, not the danger of the note, but the trifling 
reserve upon which its stability could be successfully supported. 

But if the Bank of England in bygone times and Scotch 
banks in our day were and are good and solid issuers of notes, it 
must not be concluded that all bankers are equally fitted for that 
function. The shipwrecks of 1825 teach a very different lesson. 
They showed that the country bankers for the most part were 
very bad issuers, because their solvency was unassured. Bankers 
lost their money in banking; and when bankruptcy overtook 
them, the holders of their notes were ruined. It was the busi- 
ness of customers who kept accounts with the banks of their own 
free choice to take heed to their own safety ; but the blow was 
hard upon those who had taken the currency which circulated in 
their neighbourhood. The truth was patent, that country bankers 
were generally unsafe depositories of the function of supplying a 
public currency ; but it was a truth resting on experience alone, 
for the solidity of the Bank of England and the Scottish paper 
flowed, not from any peculiarity in their banking nature, but 
from the established fact that they had always been practically 
solvent. We shall revert to this topic hereafter, when we come 
to speak of the other provision of the Act of 1844. 

But if there was to be an automaton and a limit, was the line 
drawn at the right place ? And what is a right place, and upon 
what principle was it to be determined ? The witnesses concur 
in asserting, that the limit of fourteen millions sprang from 
the observation of the circumstance that up to 1844 that sum 
was about the lowest point to which the circulation of bank 

TJie Bank Charter Jet. 417 

paper had descended. Hence it was argued that there was no 
likelihood of gold being asked for notes below that figure, and 
that a reserve coextensive with the largest amount of notes that 
have circulated above that point would supply gold for every 
pound that could be practically demanded. A most empirical 
process, unquestionably ; for who could tell v/hether, in future 
years, the public might require more or fewer notes than it had 
theretofore employed? It indicates but too truly, we fear, how 
ignorant the men of that day were of the forces which regulated 
the numbers of the bank-notes ; how little they perceived that 
convenience, as well as the amount of other instruments of cur- 
rency, determined the quantity of notes needed by the public. 
The establishment of a score of clearing houses throughout the 
country might easily have deranged the calculation, and reduced 
the bank paper to seven instead of fourteen millions. And then, 
when the line had been once drawn, it is very curious to observe 
the tenacity of conservative Englishmen clinging resolutely to an 
existing practice, even when the principle which led to its adop- 
tion suggested later and consistent alteration. In 1857, thirteen 
years after the enactment, it was pointed out in the Committee 
that as during that long period the lowest figure of the paper 
currency had not sunk below sixteen millions, the principle which 
selected foui'teen now as cogently required sixteen ; but not one 
single witness, though compelled to admit the fact, could be got 
to recommend the new adjustment. Upon the ground of the 
framers of the Act, it is clear that sixteen millions is the true 
figure; but is that the right principle for fixing the limit? How 
does it work in practice ? Under the pressure of a heavy export 
of gold, the stock of gold has sunk to eight millions, once to a 
little only above six; and Lord Overstone thinks that a very 
proper amount. We are of the opposite opinion ; we hold this 
sum to be a monstrous and extravagant waste, justified neither by 
fact nor reasoning. For what purpose does the automaton, the 
bank mint, need a reserve of gold in hand ? To secure the con- 
vertibility of the note. And why is convertibility demanded ? To 
prevent the depreciation of the note ; to guard against its being 
discredited ; to protect it from a discount ; to keep it on an equa- 
lity with gold. But we have just seen that these great objects 
were triumphantly accomplished when the bullion in the mixed 
banking and currency reserve stood as low as three millions, or 
even one million. But, much more, people nowadays have for- 
gotten that for years the bank-note suffered neither discredit nor 
depreciation, and was the equal and rival of the guinea, when posi- 
tively it had no reserve at all — when gold could not be obtained 
for it — when convertibility was actually prohibited by law. And 
how was this brought about ? By a natural law, of which the 

418 The Bank Charter JcL 

authorities seem to be ignorant, — the law that when notes are 
known to have been issued by a solvent body, and circulate only 
in such numbers as satisfy the actual wants of the public for 
effectinpj their ordinary transactions, there is a natural capacity 
and willingness in the public to hold these notes, and not to 
send them in for payment, simply on account of their usefulness 
and their convenience as instruments of exchange. 

In the presence of such facts it is idle to insist on these out- 
rageous reserves. The danger alleged to threaten the converti- 
bility of the note is a pure bugbear of Lord Overstone and his 
school; and it has frightened the rest of the world, who still 
associate the large combined reserve of former days for the 
double purpose of banking and currency with the single object 
of providing for the currency alone. Eight millions may be a 
proper or even a low figure for the banker's reserve of the pri- 
vate corporation of the Bank of England ; but it is a sheer waste 
and absurdity in the cellars of the automaton, as a provision 
for bank-notes only. For oar part, we see no reason whatever 
why a minimum of a single million should not be held to be a 
thoroughly ample and satisfactory reserve. If in the worst times 
— not of commercial difficulty, for that is of no account here, 
but of pressure on the bank mint for gold in exchange for notes 
— the reserve does not sink below a million of hard sovereigns 
still at the command of the automaton, what can the country or 
the City want more ? What possible end can a larger supply 
secure ? For let us suppose the worst that can happen ; let us 
imagine the reserve to have been entirely exhausted, not a sove- 
reign left in the vaults, fourteen millions of bank-notes in circu- 
lation, and, as before 1819, not an ounce of bullion to sustain 
them. What would be the harm, we ask ? Is there no remedy ? 
Must the automaton point to its empty till, and send back the 
note-holders with the dismal reply of " No assets" ? Nothing 
of the sort : a most efficient remedy is at hand, ready to extin- 
guish the peril on the instant. Here are fourteen milhons of 
Consols, or other securities : what so easy, what so natural and 
efficacious, as to sell a million or two's worth of them, and pro- 
cure gold or notes from the general market ? That the country 
will always demand a large quantity of so convenient a currency 
as bank-notes is certain : but suppose it would not, — suppose 
every note were sent in for payment ; what, then, would have 
happened? — the sale of the Consols, nothing ^more, except that 
the poor automaton would have given up the ghost. He would 
not be the only victim, shriek the authorities : every banker in 
the City would die of fright, if he were told there was no gold 
in the Issue Department. Let them be comforted : neither men 
nor bank-notes die so easily. The bankers would be simply as 

The Bank Charter Jet, 419 

they were ; they would have lost nothing. Twenty long yeai"s 
have elapsed since the automaton was entrusted with the su- 
preme management of the issue of bank-notes^ and during that 
period the City has been convulsed, in 184^7 and 1857, by two of 
the severest commercial pressures on record ; but never once has 
the bullion descended to six millions. Six millions of the ori- 
ginal gold on which the automaton was reared have reposed un- 
disturbed in the depths of the Issue Department's vault : not a 
seal has been broken, not an ingot stirred : they have slumbered 
on unused by bankei's, and of no more value to mankind than 
when they lay under the rocks of Australia. If such facts fail 
to demonstrate the gigantic absurdity of the present limit, and 
the ignorant nervousness of traders and writers on currency, 
reasoning must be thinist aside as a waste of time, and blind 
timidity be suffered to hold the government of the world. 

But what is the harm, after all ? still urge the authorities ; it 
is comfortable to think that there is so great a treasure in the 
couutry ; what matters it if it is a little too large? A little too 
large ! People who speak thus, who with Lord Overstone call 
8,000,000/. a very satisfactory figure for a minimum, have but a 
faint notion of the waste and the cost at which this utterly use- 
less heap of metal is kept up. One million, we assert, is a perfectly 
sufficient minimum ; the remaining seven are pure excess. And 
what is their annual expense ? 350,000/. a year, at five per cent, 
some think ; but this is but the smallest portion of the loss ac- 
tually incurred. These seven millions can be sold abroad for their 
equivalent in capital, for an equal value of food, clothing, and raw 
material for the labourers of England. It is not too much to say 
that capital applied to average industry yields a profit of at least 
fifty per cent in the wages given to labourers, and in the several 
profits of the many hands through which a commodity passes be- 
fore it is finally consumed. Take it at thirty per cent only ; and on 
seven millions we get a sum of upwards of 2,000,000/., which year 
after year the unemployed and unemployable reserve of the Issue 
Department costs England. And what is it that keeps up this fear- 
ful waste ? The unreflecting and unscientific timidity of Bank di- 
rectors, who cannot learn to see the difference between the reserve 
of the Bank and the reserve of the automaton; the ignorant 
belief of the multitude that plenty of gold at the Bank must make 
things safe ; the notion that somehow all this gold cannot be use- 
less and without effect ; and, most of all, the perverse conven- 
tionalities, the arbitrary and uninductive assumptions, the inve- 
terate association of banking with currency, in spite of all pro- 
tests to the contrary, and the consequent unintelligible jargon 
of writers like' Mr. Norman and Lord Overstone. They blunder 
grossly as practical men when they defend and encourage such 

VOL. IV. " // 

420 The Bank Charter Act, 

a senseless waste, whicli the evidence of their own eyes ought to 
have told them was absolutely unneeded ; but they blunder far 
more grossly, on the ground of science, by ignoring the essence 
and objects of a paper circulation, and by their inconsistency in 
desiring a currency of notes, and then striving to get rid of it by 
indirect devices. They seem for a moment to realise the scientific 
truth ; but as soon as they proceed to apply it, their steps falter, 
and their language betrays uncertainty, hesitation, and fear. True 
science never falters : arbitrary dogmatism is always conscious 
that there is something which it does not understand, and takes 
refuge in authoritative dicta. Eight millions are a satisfactory 
reserve, says Lord Overstone ; and if he were questioned till night- 
fall, more than this could not be got out of him. How different 
is the walk of Mr. James Wilson, how firm his step, how un- 
shrinking his confidence in pushing his science on to all its re- 
sults! "The object of using paper to a certain extent instead of 
coin," says Mr. Wilson to Mr. Weguelin, " is simply for the pur- 
pose of economising that coin, and economising to that extent the 
capital of the country. The greater the extent to which that can 
be done with perfect safety to the community, the greater is the 
advantage which the country derives from the adoption of a mixed 
circulation of gold and paper." 

How racy and refreshing is this language ! It contains about 
the whole of the science of a paper currency j but how clear, 
simple, and intelligible is that science ! Not a trace of banking 
is found in these remarkable words ; not a hint that a paper cur- 
rency and its reserves have any connection with the Bank of Eng- 
land, or discounting of bills, or accommodation to trade, or a 
reserve for meeting demands against deposits and liabilities. 
But it tells the truth, the whole of that glorious truth which 
Adam Smith unfolded, when he compared a currency of paper 
to roads constructed in the air, which allowed the highways 
of the earth to be cultivated and made productive. Paper is 
intended to take the place of coin, teaches Mr. Wilson, because 
paper costs nothing and gold costs much, and both perform ex- 
actly the same work. And because paper is the cheap instru- 
ment for effecting the same results, use as much paper as you 
can, with no other restriction than " perfect safety to the com- 
munity." Hence, in judging every form of paper cuiTency, try 
it always by the single test — its means of guaranteeing the safety 
of the public; if it fulfils that one condition, every other con- 
sideration is of very minor importance. If, therefore, a mini- 
mum of one million of reserve in the hardest times renders the 
note safe, especially when backed by the power of selUng govern- 
ment securities if required, sentence a paper circulation which 
assigns more gold to the reserve than is needed, as violating in 

The Bank Charter Jet, 421 

respect of that excess the first object of a paper currency — the 
saving the expense of the gold — as being a spurious, and not a 
true, paper circulation; and amend the Act of 1844, by extending 
the issues on securities to twenty millions instead of fourteen, 
and thereby render it a truly scientific and defensible measure. 

The two cardinal principles of perfect safety in combination 
with the largest possible use are strikingly developed in the paper 
circulation of Scotland. The absolute and unshakeable safety of 
the automaton may abstractedly claim a theoretical superiority 
over the issues of the Scottish banks ; but a century of success, 
a century during which no member of the community ever lost 
a pound by a Scottish note, proclaims that the end is achieved as 
surely, as beneficially, by the Scottish system as by the Act of 
1844. English banks of issue have lost their funds and ruined 
their note-holders; Scottish banks of issue do not fail; or, if they 
do, their notes are provided for, and the public is uninjured. Eng- 
lish country bankers have therefore, as a rule, proved themselves 
to be bad issuers, and Scottish bankers good issuers, of notes ; 
and so long as this quality lasts, no man of sense or science can 
attack them on either practical or scientific grounds. What 
science commands is the accomplishment of perfect safety ; but 
it prescribes no one invariable machinery for attaining that end. 
If the Scottish notes are safe, — and no man has been hardy enough 
to deny that they are safe, — they are unimpeachable in principle, 
however much any one originating a system of paper circulation 
might prefer one founded on the basis of an automaton. The 
authorities, indeed, inveigh against the vast superstructure of 
paper in Scotland on so trifling, so insignificant a reserve of 
metal ; but what they decry with so much alarm constitutes a 
merit of the highest scientific value in the Scottish system. If 
the notes, as a fact, are perfectly safe, the more insignificant the 
reserve of bullion the greater manifestly is the economy they 
achieve, and the more splendidly have they realised the require- 
ments of science. 

On the other hand, as regards the second principle, the ex- 
tent to which the circulation of paper is carried, the superiority of 
Scotland over England is most decided and brilliant. Scotland 
has one-pound notes, and England none ; the people of Scotland 
prefer to be paid in notes rather than in sovereigns. Can words 
describe more powerfully monetary success and the triumph of 
commercial civilisation? Why must England forego the use of 
one-pound notes, and pay for expensive and inconvenient sove- 
reigns in their place ? Because the public was frightened by the 
insolvency of country banks in 1825, and because bankers, partly 
from routine and partly from a timidity derived from a secret con- 
sciousness that they do not understand the principles of currency, 
have fallen into a rut, and shrink from making a change. We 

422 Tlie Bank Charter Jet. 

have in vain looked through the two Bhie-books of 1857 and 
1858 for a reason to justify the banishment of notes of low de- 
nomination. The witnesses, when pressed, gave up the matter 
in despair, and, acknowledging their inability to defend their 
opinions, fell back upon sentiment. "I do not know,^' says 
Mr. Newmarch, "that any inconvenience has arisen from the 
existing state of things which would render it desirable even 
to consider whether or not the circulation of one-pound notes 
might be introduced." This from a man who lives in an island 
of which Scotland forms a part. He is considered a great autho- 
rity on currency. What can his notion be of the use of a paper 
currency? He sees one-pound notes largely used and highly 
valued by many of his fellow-subjects ; he ought to know that 
these notes effect an immense saving of capital — that they cost 
nothing, whilst sovereigns cost much — and yet he will not even 
ask himself whether they might not be useful in England also. 
Why not ? Because he does not choose, it seems ; and this is 
called science, or practical authority. He may be a practical 
authority on banking; but that answer betrays a profound igno- 
rance of the very ends for which a paper currency exists. 

We may now sum up the results which we have acquired ; 
and we shall be thus enabled to pass a judgment on the leading 
provisions of the Bank Act of 1 84 1. 

We have discovered its high scientific merit in thoroughly 
separating banking from currency. We have regretted the 
phrase Issue Department as suggestive of a branch of the Bank 
of England; whilst, in fact, an automaton has carried off the 
whole currency from the Bank, and regulates it by laws as fixed 
and self-acting as those that govern the motion of the planets. The 
bank-note does not belong to the Bank of England ; and the Bank 
has no greater command over the issues for furnishing accom- 
modation to trade than any other bank or any other person in 
the kingdom. We have seen that what the automaton does is 
to sell bank-notes to all comers — selling first of all fourteen mil- 
lions to the Bank of England for a payment in government secu- 
rities, and demanding gold from all the rest of the world for any 
quantity which they may choose to buy. The automaton has 
thus been shown to provide perfect safety for every pound of 
notes issued, and also to have at hand a larger quantity of sove- 
reigns than the public can in any way be expected to demand. 
The conditions of a sound paper currency are thus completely 
fulfilled : the public may obtain any supplies they choose to ask 
for of a most convenient and safe paper, invested also with the 
privilege of legal tender in discharge of debts. But whether the 
paper currency is as unassailable in detail as it is in principle, is 
a point fairly open to dispute. It may be questioned whether a 
fixed limit is the nicest machinerv for the determination of the 

The Bank Charter Act, 423 

stock of gold which must be kept ready for cashing notes pre- 
sented for payment ; and^ supposing that question resolved in the 
affirmative, the precise limit of fourteen millions may be much 
more legitimately and successfully challenged. As compared with 
Scottish issues, and the method of issue practised by the Bank 
before 1844, when the bank-note formed a part of the general 
liabihties of the Bank, and relied on the same common reserve as 
the deposits and other obligations, the practical safety obtained 
by means of the Act of 1844 is as good as, but no better than, 
that realised by the other two systems. In all the three methods 
alike the solvency and credit of the notes have been entirely 
secured ; and that was all that was required to be done. The 
authorities may rejoice in the reflection that, under the Act, 
the note is always safe; but the Scots may and do rejoice as 
legitimately, and so might have done the administrators of the 
Bank-of-England currency before 1844. Theoretically, it can- 
not be denied that the security given by the Issue Department 
is higher still than that which prevailed previously, or which 
now exists in the Scottish system ; for there are always bullion 
and government securities in the bank mint coextensive with 
the whole amount of the circulation, whilst it was not impossible 
that the Bank of England should have become insolvent before 
1844, or that the Scottish banks may not continue as sound as 
they have been heretofore. But, practically, the difference disap- 
pears in the common and coequal convertibility of the three sys- 
tems. Whilst, therefore, we adopt the principle of 1844, which 
completes the security for the whole paper circulation, and very 
heartily approve the separation of currency from banking as ex- 
cellent in doctrine and practice, still we cannot assert that the 
law was demanded by any practical and demonstrated necessity, 
or that the currency of Bank of England notes has derived from 
it a single advantage that was not enjoyed before its enactment. 
But when we come from the principle to the details of the 
Act, our judgment is greatly modified, and we are compelled 
to recognise and to censure the unwarranted and uncompens- 
ated waste of capital which the drawing of the line at fourteen 
millions has inflicted on the country. The loss is so heavy 
and so gratuitous that, in our eyes, it extinguishes all the merit 
of the Act of 1844 ; and if no corrective is applied, the loss 
would make us perpetually regret the extinction of the old sys- 
tem. Banking is infinitely better understood than it was twentj'' 
years ago, and the directors of the Bank of England would not 
now conduct their affairs at hap-hazard, as they admit that they 
did in former days. A couple of millions a year is a heavy cost 
to pay for a little more theoretical nicety, and no practical bene- 
fit, in the management of a paper circulation. However, there 
is an easy locus pcenitentm left ; the Act can be amended, and 

424 The Bank Charter Act. 

thereby convei'ted into an excellent measure. All that is needed 
is to raise the credit-issues, as they are called — the notes for 
which no gold is stored in the cellars — to twenty millions. No 
doubt a fierce yell from the authorities awaits such a proposal ; 
but that signifies little ; we do not despair of obtaining such an 
improvement in the end. It would come speedily, we feel cer- 
tain, if the automaton worked at "Whitehall instead of on the 
premises of the Bank. Not oncsingle element in the Act would 
be altered by such a removal ; the Bank of England would not, 
in that case, have a particle the less of control over the bullion 
and the notes, seeing that now it has no command over them at 
all. The public would speedily learn to perceive that trade 
and discount have no connection whatever with the machinery 
which issues out notes to the public, any more than with the 
sovereigns which are emitted by the Royal Mint ; and they 
would soon learn to care as little for the number of the notes in 
circulation as they care for the quantity of sovereigns which 
roam up and down England. They would rapidly get over all 
alarm at a low reserve for notes when they saw that, whether 
gold abounded or not, the credit and popularity of the note were 
uninjured. In a word, as soon* as they imbibed the conviction 
that the manufactory which supplied notes differed in no respect 
from that which produces sovereigns, or any mill which turned 
out calico, and was as incapable of furnishing supplies to the 
money-market as any shop or factory in the land, all uneasiness 
would be at an end as to the solvency and convertibility of paper 
which was fully protected by securities. We say by securities, 
because one great principle of the Act ought in no case to be 
abandoned — the absolute safety afforded to the whole paper cur- 
rency by the deposit of securities ensuring their safety. This is 
the clear and legitimate superiority which the system of 1844 
can claim over its predecessor, as well as over its Scottish rival. 
Unlike the bullion in the cellar, these securities involve no loss 
of capital ; for they would yield dividends to whomsoever they 
might be allotted, and they may just as well be lodged in one 
place as in another. 

But such an improvement as the Act of 1844 ought not to 
stop short of the restoration of one-pound notes. Such an act 
of repentance would remove a disgrace from our financial legisla- 
tion. The extinction of this most useful currency is a standing 
memorial of the panic and the ignorance from which it sprang. 
Prejudice and sentiment are the sole obstacles in the way of 
this good deed ; for it is useless to seek for scientific or practical 
arguments against its performance. There are persons, indeed, 
who terrify themselves that then there would be no gold left in 
the country; just as there were those who honestly Mieved that 
the repeal of the corn-laws would throw English fields out of cul- 

TJie Bank CJiarter Act, 425 

tivation ; but the one are not more rational the other. England 
has not starved since 1846 ; and even the lovers of bullion have 
been driven to confess that foreigners constantly sell precious 
metals to England. The balance of trade is^ as a rule, always 
directing a stream of gold into England ; in other words_, Eng- 
land has no difficulty in finding perpetual sellers of gold. So 
entirely is the trade in the precious metals to be relied on_, that 
a large portion of the Duke of Wellington's supplies for the 
payment of his troops in Spain is said to have come to him 
through Paris. Lancashire may often find cotton unprocurable ; 
but it will never lack whatever gold it may desire, so long as it 
has property wherewith to buy it. 

We are now brought to the remaining enactments of 1844 — 
the regulations imposed on the paper issues of the country 
banks. A few words will suffice on this head. All issues, we 
have seen, beyond the amount in circulation when the Act was 
passed, as well as the creation of new banks of issue, are for- 
bidden ; and, as the country circulation is diminished by the ex- 
tinction of an amalgamation of country banks, the Bank of Eng- 
land is authorised to extend its circulation without any deposit 
of gold to the amount of two-thirds of the lapsed notes. It 
is manifest that the framers of the Act desired and expected an 
early extinction of the country circulation. There were some rea- 
sonable grounds for that desire. The events of 1825 were still re- 
cent in 1844, and distrust in the solvency of many of the country 
issuers was justifiable. But their expectation has been falsified, 
because they did not perceive the attachment which local popu- 
lations feel for their country notes. To this day, in many dis- 
tricts of England, local notes are deliberately preferred to Bank 
of England notes, though the latter are a legal tender, and 
though their solvency is placed on a higher level than was ever 
obtained by English country notes. The country people are 
more familiar with their old acquaintances; and, still more, 
they conceive the risk of losing their money by forgery to be 
much greater with the Bank of England note. The sentiment 
is strong, whether reasonable or not ; and it clearly shows that 
the right measure to have been adopted respecting them was 
to place their notes on the same basis as the credit-issues of 
the Bank, and to require the deposit with the government of 
securities sufficient to guarantee the complete safety of the notes. 
No doubt country bankers would prefer to hold their securities 
at their own disposal; but they should remember that the issue 
of a public currency is no inherent part of the private business 
of banking. It is a public function derived from the State; and 
indisputably the State has the fullest right to lay down the con- 
ditions on which it will confer a public and profitable privilege. 

It remains for us now to notice briefly some of the re- 

426 The Bank Charter Act. 

markable doctrines which have been associated with the Bank 
Act of 1844. 

The most common is the belief that the quantity of gold in 
the Issue Department implies an increased reserve for the banking 
department of the Bank of England, and consequently is a 
security and accommodation for trade. This is an all-pervading 
notion in commercial circles ; but it is a pure and baseless fal- 
lacy. There is not a word of truth in it. Its existence would 
be astonishing, were it not possible to trace its origin so clearly 
to the former state of things, when the two reserves were 
confounded into one, and when the gold reserved to pay notes 
was mixed up in the same till with the gold destined to pay 
depositors and all other creditors of the Bank. A strong re- 
serve undoubtedly is a matter of great importance to a bank, 
and to every person who has dealings with it ; but the gold be- 
longing to the automaton, to the Issue Department, does not 
belong to the Bank of England, but to the holders of bank-notes 
all over the kingdom ; and it may be much or little, without 
affecting by a single pound the banking and true reserve of the 
Bank of England. Did any one ever hear the notion uttered, 
that the sovereigns throughout England strengthened the re- 
serve of the Bank of England? Why should the notes do so 
any the more, or the gold which is held in close pawn for those 
notes, fast out of the reach of the whole court of directors? 
Those who use such language have not learned the meaning of 
the Act of 1844, They are still unaware of the fact that the 
Issue Department, the automaton, is nothing else in the world 
but a factory for the making and selling of bank-notes — a purely 
private establishment, as private and separate as the shop of any 
tradesman in the City; and that the cash in its till has no more to 
do with the equally private firm of the Bank of England than the 
sovereigns which lie in the purses of gentlemen going about the 
streets. The gold of the automaton is a part of its stock-in-trade, — 
for in truth it deals in both ways, selling gold as well as notes, — 
and whether that stock is large or small is no one's concern but 
its own. If it is too large, there is a waste incurred by compelling 
the automaton to sentence a large treasure to annihilation; and 
if it is reduced to a proper size, — to a million, as we contend, — 
the automaton will only have profited by the intelligence of the 
age, and reduced its useless store, as tradesmen nowadays, by 
the favour of railways, no longer keep the same amount of stock 
in their shops. All these are private affairs; nothing more. 

There is also another delusion, closely akin to the former, 
which invests gold with a mysterious and peculiar importance; 
which distinguishes it from all other commodities by some quali- 
ties too mystical to be intelligibly described ; which conceives 
it to be the duty of all prudent and paternal governments to 

The Bank Charter Act. 427 

make legislative provision for a constant supply of this magical 
article ; and which, contemplating with infinite complacency and 
self-gratulation the eight millions which, undisturbed and un- 
ruffled, are ever incubating over some prodigy going to be born 
in the dark cellars of Threadneedle Street, points to the sacred 
treasure as the pledge of commercial safety. Dreams of the 
imagination, which the breath of the morning air at once dispels. 
What virtue can reside in a metal which no man can control or 
see? Gold is but one out of thousands of commodities subject 
to the same laws, obeying the same influence, bought, sold, and 
exchanged by precisely the same rules as all its companions. 
Food sustains life, clothing shelters it, comforts give it enjoy- 
ment, humbler metals minister to its necessities ; but what can 
luckless sovereigns and unworked bullion accomplish, except serve 
as tools for passing property from one man's possession to an- 
other's ? And if they are not engaged in this office, of what 
use are they to mortals ? But, even if it were otherwise, — if 
gold, like food and clothing, w ere consumed, — why should go- 
vernments, above all an English government, take thought for 
its supply ? Why should the universal law^ of supply and de- 
mand be supposed to have lost its efficacy in the case of this one 
metal ? Is iron less useful, less valuable ? Yet what theorist has 
prescribed the piling-up of warehouses with unemployed hard- 
Avare ? The dread of too feeble a supply of gold is shipwrecked 
against a fact so palpable that not an authority has dared to 
deny it — the fact that foreign countries, normal^, are always in- 
debted to England, or, in other words, that the value of our ex- 
ported manufactures exceeds the value of the foreign raw mate- 
rials of which they are composed. And if this is so, — as it 
incontestably is, — does it not irresistibly follow that the normal 
problem for England is not how to gel gold, but how to get rid 
of it ? This everlasting craving for hoards, which are turned to 
no profitable use ; this gloating over reserves, which science and ex- 
perience and common sense alike condemn; this fatuous revival of 
the mercantile theory in all its preposterousness, — is the shame of 
our age. If eight millions are needed for cashing notes presented 
for payment, let us have them, — they are usefully employed in 
sustaining a paper circulation ; but if one million is enough, — 
if one million will do the work as thoroughly, as safely, as per- 
manently as eight, in the name of common intelligence let science 
say so to the trembling spirits of the City, and let it bid them 
turn the idle into reproductive capital, for the benefit of the 
nation. Their own automaton might have taught them better 
things. Had it a voice to speak with, it would summon them to 
carry away ingots which no man had touched for twenty years, 
and which their own laws compel it to keep from all the world. 
Another merit is claimed for the law of 18 M by these eminent 

428 The Bmik Charter Act. 

philosophers, — fortunately, without the slightest foundation for it 
in the law itself; for otherwise it would not be the good law 
which it is on so many points. It regulates the circulation, 
they tell us, making money cheaper or dearer as the circulation 
expands or is contracted, and thereby steadies prices, checks 
speculation, and furnishes a solid basis for the calculations of 
the trader. Sovereigns and bank-notes alone form " the circu- 
lation,'^ and thus bank-notes and sovereigns alone ought to be 
cared for as the regulators of prices. Again are we lifted into 
the world of fiction and unreality. Where have these great 
oracles learned that coin and bank-notes alone constitute the 
currency of England ? Nay, what is their idea of a currency 
and its functions ? Manifestly to them currency is something 
more than instruments of exchange; for such a definition at 
once places cheques, bills, and book- credit on a level with the 
sovereign and the note, for the work of all is identical in nature, 
with modifications to suit requirements of detail, just as a chisel 
is fitted for cleaving and a plane for smoothing wood. And as 
the work is the same, so the diminution of one kind of these 
instruments only leads to an increase of the others. If bank- 
notes are made fewer by the withdrawal of gold from the 
automaton for exportation, nay, if they were extinguished alto- 
gether, the only effect would be to compel the public to use 
more cheques, bills, and book- credit. But this view does not 
content the authorities. They have assigned a specific and ad- 
ditional effect to coin and notes, and they glory in the Act of 
1844, not only as ensuring the safety and convertibility of the 
public cheque, — a merit it is clearly entitled to, — but also as 
protecting an agent which peculiarly acts on prices, and thereby 
specially deserves the attention of the legislator. When notes 
and sovereigns are abundant, prices, we are assured, are inclined 
to rise ; when they are deficient, the value of all commodities 
begins to droop, and thus the doctor is enabled to discern the 
remedy for controlling speculation by lowering the markets, 
through a diminution of the circulation. A gratuitous and un- 
founded theory. In the first place, the law of 1844 does not 
and cannot act in the manner supposed ; the automaton does not 
control the circulation at all, but is' itself controlled by the pub- 
lic, whether speculators or others, who take as many or as few 
notes as they please. If, therefore, the doctrine were true, it 
would be destroyed by the very law that was enacted to give it 
effect. But, in the second place, those who suppose currency to 
act on prices are entirely ignorant of the natural ebb and flow of 
the currency. On this point there seems to be a strange misap- 
prehension even amongst the ablest writers. We are not aware of 
a single person having perceived what appears to us to be a very 
obvious truth, — that, there being only a fimited use and demand 

The Bank Charter Jet. 


for gold within the country, the inevitable destination of all im- 
ports which are not intended for immediate reexportation is the 
vaults of the Issue Department. Vouchers are given for it in 
the form of bank-notes ; and these notes^ being equally incapable 
of being absorbed by the public, gravitate, by a similar process, 
through the various banks to the common reservoir of the reserve 
of the banking department — that is, of the Bank of England. This 
bullion and these notes are purely inoperative; they are waiting 
in idleness till they can be consumed, the bullion by being sent 
abroad, the notes by being cancelled. They are simply an excess 
of stock, like a glut of timber or corn in the docks, for which 
the owners have received warrants from the dock company. Such 
being the fact, it is plain that the cellar of the automaton is 
merely a safe and convenient place in which to store away the 
gold till it is wanted ; and that the notes which are issued as 
receipts for it, supervening upon an amount already sufficient for 
the public wants, as all the witnesses agree, cannot be kept out 
in circulation, but play simply the part of title-deeds or vouchers. 
This simple explanation shows at a glance the emptiness of the 
speculations which have been so prodigally lavished on the fluc- 
tuations of the automaton's reserve. These fluctuations indicate 
solely the movements to and fro of the trade in gold; and as 
gold is almost always flowing into England from the balance of 
trade, the reserve, for the most part, stands at a figure far above 
the minimum necessary for the single purpose of securing the 
convertibility of the bank-note. 

But in truth all this commotion about gold and notes, these 
special investigations in times of commercial difficulty into the 
state of these instruments of exchange, as if they contained the 
secret of a standing or falling City, are singularly absurd. Look 
at the following statement, we say to students of currency; 
make use of your common sense ; and then ask yourselves whe- 
ther this passionate excitement about the condition of the bul- 
lion and the bank-notes is not supremely ludicrous. This state- 
ment was laid before the Committee of the House of Commons 
in 1858 by Mr. Slater, of the firm of Morrison, Dillon, and Co., 
and gives an account of the receipts and payments of that house 
in the year 1856. 


Bankers' drafts and bills payable after date 

Cheques .... 

Country bankers' notes 

Bank of England notes 


Silver and copper 
Post Office orders 



430 The Bank Charter Act. 


Bills payable after date £302,674 

Cheques 663,672 

Bank of England notes 22,743 

Gold 9,427 

Silver and copper 1,484 

£1,000,000 f^M 
It appears from this document that, in the payment of a millioh 
sterling, notes and coin together were employed to the extent of 
only 33,654/. Who does not see, after this, the utterly insigni- 
ficant part which the public currency of the realm plays in the 
great transactions of business; that gold and notes form but 
the small change, the pocket-money, as it were, of trade; that 
the mighty instruments by which commercial exchanges are 
effected are the bill, and, above all, the cheque; and that the 
passionate attention given to notes, the vehement anxiety about 
the mass of their reserve, are practical and scientific absurdities? 
The bill and the cheque do the work, and take care of them- 
selves; the Bank of England note is petted and fondled; it is 
raised to the highest elevation of dignity ; men are never happy 
unless it is enthroned on unemployed and unemployable mil- 
lions ; but it does not, and never will, from its very nature, do 
the great work of effecting exchanges. This, to be rightly under- 
stood, is enough to dispel most of the delusions about currency. 

One delusion more, the greatest and most astounding of all, 
we must notice ; and then we shall cease to trouble the patience 
of our readers. It is the grand discovery of the authorities, the 
central principle of their view of a paper cm-rency, the scientific 
achievement on which they pride themselves, the splendid merit 
which they claim for the Act of 1844. The assertion is so over- 
whelming, that we must guard against every possibility of mis- 
take. We never met yet a man who, when told of it for the first 
time, could believe that Lord Overstone or his associates could 
have made such a declaration, so we quote the ipsissima verba 
of Lord Overstone himself. " By this means,*' he said on the 
7th of July, 1857, to the Select Committee of the House of 
Commons, "by means of the Act of 1844, effectual security is 
obtained that the amount of paper money in the country shall at 
all times conform to what would be the amount of a metallic cir- 
culation. Of this there can be no doubt. The paper money of 
the country, under the Act of 1844, conforms strictly in amount 
and consequent value to a metallic circulation ; those fluctuations 
in amount, and those only, which would occur under a purely me- 
tallic circulation, can and will occur under our present mixed 
circulation of gold and paper, as regulated by the Act of 1844." 

A paper currency identical, not in value only, but in amount. 

The Bank Charter Act. 4S1 

in tlie numbers of pounds circulating, with a circulation of coin, — 
and this erected into the primary principle of currency, of which 
there can be no doubt ! Egregious nonsense ; those are the only 
terms to apply to it. Lord Overstone was long a banker. Had 
a bookworm in Grub Street uttered such language, it might have 
caused no surprise ; but that such incredible absurdities should 
have come from a practical dealer in money is marvellous indeed. 
We ourselves, as v.'e write of it, can scarcely believe that such a 
thing could ever have been said. The desire to be scientific ex- 
tinguished the common sense of this great banker. Let him 
consult Jones Loyd and Co., and ask what they would do if 
Bank of England notes were suppressed ; let him enquire whe- 
ther they would use as many sovereigns in their business as 
they now use notes, sovereigns for notes, pound for pound. Let 
him imagine the stir in the banking-house, when the morning- 
clerks had to be sent out to collect the sums due to the firm. A 
small portfolio and a trustworthy clerk gathered, and brought 
home, thousands — possibly hundreds of thousands ; but what was 
to be done with those dreadful sovereigns? Who was to cany 
them ? a porter or a cab ? If a cab, two clerks must go ; for 
one must stay on guard whilst the other stepped into some house 
to receive a fresh payment. And then the weighings across the 
counter, the time lost, the risk of robbery — the sight of the bul- 
lion-bags as they were shot into the cab ! Does Lord Overstone 
imagine that Jones Loyd and Co., or any banking-house or 
mercantile firm in the City, would stand this for three days? 
Is it not obvious that fresh appeals would be made to that 
mightiest of instruments, the cheque ? that sovereigns would 
be eschewed by every man of business? that the disappear- 
ance of the bank-note would scarcely have enlarged the use 
of coin, but that the cheque, the despised and unprotected 
cheque — the cheque which no bullion renders safe, for which no 
grand Act of Parliament rears a costly foundation of metal — 
would dominate sole and all-powerful in the City ? And then, 
the confusion and perplexity in every household ! The gentleman 
who loved to carry a score or two of pounds in his pocket — 
what was he to do with all this weight ? The fine lady on her 
shopping rounds in Bond Street, how was she to pay for her 
purchases ? What could help her but the cheque ? More buy- 
ers on credit, less purchasers with ready money, more banking 
and more cheques. The cheque-book, for hourly use, would 
become the inseparable companion of ladies and gentlemen 
alike. The supposition is too ridiculous to pursue it farther. If 
people imagine that there are no such forces as the laws of 
gravity — if they fancy that the public, for the very same pur- 
poses, will use a very heavy commodity to the same extent that 

4S2 The Bank Charter Jet, 

they would a light one, — words would be wasted in the attempt 
to convert them. 

Some may think that we have pressed too heavily on the 
absurdities of these currency oracles : we plead not guilty to the 
charge. The mischief, both theoretical and practical, which these 
pompous authorities work in matters of currency is incalculal)le. 
They have rendered it the most repulsive of subjects for the stu- 
dent ; and their dogmatism inflicts very heavy losses of money 
on the country. Many men, as our own experience has amply 
sliown, relying solely on their common sense, have discerned with 
ease the main principles of cun;ency. They have then passed 
over to the utterances of great bankers and grandiloquent writers; 
they have been assured that these were eminent authorities, pos- 
sessed of transcendent knowledge and experience; they have 
found the instincts of their own good sense contemptuously 
thrust aside as ignorant and shallow ; but they have found also 
the language of the great men to be unintelligible jargon ; and, 
turning away in disgust, they have resolved never to read a line 
more on currency in their lives. Such is the melancholy state 
to which currency has been reduced by the most uninductive and 
unanalytical writing which has weighed down any science since 
the days of astrology. 

We are well aware also that our proposal to raise the limit 
of bank-notes issued on the deposit of Consols or other securities 
to twenty millions, and to return to the wholesome and scientific 
one-pound note, will be received with simple disdain. We are 
willing to bear it ; for we know that victory in the end always 
belongs to truth, and that our opponents are unable to oppose 
us with any reasonings which will bear examination. The Bank 
Act of ISit, their own very child, will at last work out their 
overthrow. It needs only to be understood. When the public 
has learned thoroughly to grasp the fact that the Issue Depart- 
ment, the automaton, has no connection with trade or the Bank 
of England ; that its one sole object, its only act, is to secure the 
credit and convertibility of the bank-note; and that almost all 
the gold destined to protect that convertibility is never touched 
for generations ; so wanton and vast a waste and loss as eight 
millions of pounds kept for a work which one alone is fully able 
to perform, will cease to be tolerated by the public opinion both 
of the City and of all England. 

B. P. 

[ 433 ] 


The history of every science is marked by a succession of epochs 
of change in theoretical views, produced by the accumulation of 
facts for which existing theories afford an inadequate explanation. 
When a new theory is proposed, the labours of scientific men are 
appHed to clear up exceptions to its laws, to confirm its deductions, 
and to extend it to new and uncultivated branches of the science. 
There is no time as yet to see its defects : and so, when it has been 
once generally adopted, there is at first an unqualified faith in it ; 
the teaching of schools becomes so dogmatical that the majority of 
students who happen to be educated immediately after its general 
adoption hardly ever change their opinions afterwards. Gradually, 
however, as some unexpected facts come to light, scepticism begins 
to show itself ; partial modifications of the theory are suggested ; 
the germs of new ones burst forth, leading to animated controversy, 
and stimulating to new enquiries. This is the period of the greatest 
activity and progress of a science ; for the collision of rival hypo- 
theses produces the sparks from which most discoveries emanate. 
At length the old theory gives way, and a new one is installed in its 
place, to be in turn dethroned by another. Let it not be forgotten, 
however, that each successive theory is in reality but a transforma- 
tion, so to say, of the preceding one, and always brings us nearer to 
the goal which all science leads to, — a clearer insight into the laws 
of the universe, and a greater power of adapting them to our pur- 

In chemistry we are just now emerging from this strife of 
opposing hypotheses ; the old theories are becoming obsolete, 
and the foundations of a new one are being laid. And that new 
one will not be a theory to explain and connect chemical pheno- 
mena, m the usual restricted sense of the word, but will be a gene- 
ral theory of matter and motion ; for the chemist, following in the 
track of the astronomer, no longer confines himself to the study of 
terrestrial matter, but boldly speculates upon that of the sun, and 
even of the stellar worlds. It seems a fitting moment, then, to trace 
the successive phases of opinion which have prepared the way for 
the advent of the new theory. 

At the beginning of the eighteenth century the old Greek 
elements, fire, air, earth, and water, were still believed in ; but the 
alchemists had added three others, sulphur, mercury, and salt. 
These must not be looked upon as the substances we now know 
by those names, but as the elements of the Peripatetics, the types of 
certain general properties. By sulphur the alchemists understood 
the property of changeability, of destruction ; mercury embodied 

434- The Progress of Chemical Science. 

the idea of iindecomposability, the cause of metalHc lustre, ductility, 
in a word, of metalleity ; while salt typified fixity. These were the 
metal-forming elements, the difference between the metals being 
due to the proportions and degree of purity of the elements. 
Hence it was evident that metals might be transmuted into each 
other. These elemental types bear evidence of the influence of 
metaphysical ideas upon the conceptions of physical phenomena. 
This influence is further illustrated by the gi'owth of a complete 
system of chemical ontology ; thus sweetness was attributed to a 
distinct sweet principle, bitterness to a bitter principle, aromas to 
an aromatic principle. The elixir of life, the alchahest, or universal 
solvent, the spiritus mundi, which people sought for in the dew 
of the month of May, and in the products of the distillation of 
frogs and lizards, was only a further development of this onto- 
logy. Such terms as elective affinity, magnetic, electric, caloric 
and lummous fluids, vital principle, prove that its influence has 
long lingered in physical science, though now passed, or passing, 
away for ever. 

For this multiplicity of principles, the German physician, 
Becher, or rather his more celebrated disciple Stahl, substi- 
tuted a single general principle, by the combinations of which 
with bodies all their metamorphoses were sought to be explained. 
This principle was the matter of fire, which, according to Stahl, 
could exist both free and combined. When bodies contained it 
combined, they were combustible. This combined or fixed caloric 
he called phlogiston, from (p\6^, flame. When set free from 
bodies it assumes its common properties of heat and light. Com- 
bustion of bodies was therefore a decomposition into phlogiston 
and some other substance which varied with the nature of the com- 
bustible. The richer a body was in phlogiston, the more com- 
bustible it was. When metals were heated, they lost their bright- 
ness and were converted into an earthy dross or calx ; metals were 
compounds of different calxes with phlogiston, and the process of 
calcination was therefore a separation of phlogiston. Wlien these 
calxes were heated with such combustible bodies as oil or charcoal, 
the metals were revived, that is, they combined again with phlo- 
giston, which they borrowed from the combustibles. 

The discoveiy by Bayen that the calx or oxide of mercury on 
being heated yielded metallic mercury and a gas, and the splendid 
discoveiy of all the properties of this gas (oxygen) by Priestley, and 
almost simultaneously by Scheele, Dr. Rutheiford's discovery of 
nitrogen, Black's discovery of carbonic acid. Cavendish's memorable 
.synthesis of water, and Lavoisier's discovery of the composition of 
air, enabled Lavoisier hunself completely to overturn the jihlogiston 
theory, and to give a simple explanation of the oxidation and reduc- 
tion of metals, and of the formation of many acids, — such as sul- 

The Progress of Chemical Science, 455 

phuric, carbonic, and phosphoric acids, — of combustion, of respira- 
tion, and decay. . The calxes of metals, according to him, were com- 
binations of metals with oxygen ; therefore all earths were oxides, 
and would yield metals, if only the oxygen could be separated. An 
attempt to realise this prediction of Lavoisier during his lifetime 
was made by Tondi and Ruprecht, who, about the year 1790, tried 
to separate the metals of barytes, magnesia, and some other earths. 
It seems that the bodies they obtained were only alloys of iron, so 
that the true metals of the alkalies and earths were imknown before 
the memorable experiments of Sir Humphrey Davy. 

At first sight the difierence between Stahl's view of combustion 
and Lavoisier's may not seem so great a discovery as it really was ; 
but, in truth, there is a wide chasm between the chemical science 
of the first part of the eighteenth century and that established by 
Lavoisier. The very language was revolutionised ; not the mere 
nomenclature of chemical bodies only, but the descriptions of 
processes and the explanation of phenomena. The wonderful 
light which was shed over all the experimental sciences by the 
views of Lavoisier may be pointed to as an example of the value 
of theoretical views, apart from the discovery of mere facts. 

Chemical research necessarily follows two distinct directions — 
one, the analysis and synthesis of bodies, their transformation when 
subjected to the action of reagents, and their mutual relationships ; 
the other, the investigation of the causes of the phenomena, that is, 
of the forces which are engaged in chemical processes. The former 
prepares materials for the latter ; and it is from the progress in the 
second direction that we attain to a theory of causation. Lavoisier 
did not, strictly speaking, propose a theory. He merely described 
facts without attempting to explain them ; but he did so clearly and 
logically, and therefore prepared the way for a theory. Hence he may 
be said to have followed the first of the two directions we have just 
mentioned. But among his fellow-labourers and contemporaries 
there were some who pursued the second path of research. In 1 775, 
the Swedish chemist Bergmann j3ublished his essay on elective at- 
tractions, in which he laid it down as a principle that all bodies 
which have the power of combining with each other do so in virtue 
of an affinity which is strictly elective, and that the force of this at- 
traction is constant and definite, and capable of numerical determi- 
nation. He attempted to express this affinity in the case of bases and 
acids by constructing a series of tables, which, though very incorrect, 
must always have a historical value, as the first systematic attempt 
to introduce number into chemistry. Two years after the publica- 
tion of Bergmann's book appeared a very remarkable work of a 
German chemist, Wenzel, upon the same subject. This work con- 
tained the capital discovery that many salts, when mixed toge- 
ther in certain proportions, completely decompose each other; 

VOL. IV. 9 9 

436 TJie Progress of Chemical Science. 

while if there be an excess of one or the other salt in the solution, 
that excess will remain without aflPecting the result. The author 
further observed that if the salts were neutral to test-paper before 
being mixed, the neutrality was not affected by the result. In these 
experiments we have two important numerical laws, since known 
as the laws of definite and reciprocal proportion, that is, the doctrine 
of equivalents. Wenzel's analyses can scarcely be surpassed at the 
present day for accuracy. This subject was further extended by 
the labours of another German chemist, Richter, whose chief work, 
in four volumes, appeared between 1792 and 1794. His analyses 
are by no means as accurate as those of Wenzel ; but his tables may 
be considered the prototypes of the later tables of equivalents. 

This subject of afiinity occupied the attention of many other 
chemists also, and among them of the Frenchman Berthollet, whose 
celebrated work Essai de Statique Chimique appeared in 1803. 
In this book, Berthollet made an attempt to lay the basis of a 
general theory of chemical science, by considering that the mole- 
cular attraction which produces chemical combination is but a mo- 
dification of the universal law of gravitation. He considered com- 
binations and decompositions to be the result, not of affinity, as 
Bergman n thought, but of an effort to attain a state of equilibrium 
under the varying influences of external circumstances, such as 
density, insolubility, volatility, and the relative masses of bodies. 
He believed that bodies are capable of uniting with each other in all 
proportions, and that the definite composition which we find them 
to possess is the resultant of the different forces engaged in each 
reaction. This idea appears to be a necessary consequence of any 
mechanical theory of chemistry ; the speculation was, however, too 
far in advance of observation and experiment in BerthoUet's time 
to admit of being properly interpreted. It will hereafter be found 
that the chemical statics foreshadowed the true dynamical theory 
of molecular forces ; and the work will ever be looked upon as one 
of the most remarkable contributions to chemistry. As the theory 
of indefinite chemical combination could not be interpreted and 
harmonised with the facts of the science at that time, in the form 
in which it was put forward by Berthollet it was erroneous, and led 
to a controversy with Proust, who maintained the opposite opinion 
with great ability. This controversy was useful to science, and 
undoubtedly directed general attention to the phenomena of com- 
bination and decomposition, and paved the way for the discovery 
of the laws which govern those phenomena. 

The study of crystalline forms, which from the commencement 
of the eighteenth century began to attract attention, revived to 
some extent the old corpuscular theory of the Greeks. Newton 
speaks of the ultimate particles as being hard and impenetrable. 
Leeuwenhoeck tells us that a cube of common salt is formed by the 

The Progress of Chemical Science, 437 

union of an infinity of smaller cubes. Buffon, following out tto 
idea, concluded that it could not be doubted that " the primitive 
and constitutional parts of this salt are also cubes so small that 
they will always escape our eyes and even our imaginations." Eom^ 
de risle, who may be said to have laid the first foundation of crys- 
tallography by the establishment of the important laws of the 
invariability of the angles of the crystals of the same substance, 
no matter how unequally the development of the faces which 
fonn the angle may have taken place (a law first indicated by 
Gulielmini), and that every face of crystal has a similar one 
parallel to it, has the following remarkable passage in the se- 
cond edition of his CristaUographie : " Germs being inadmissible 
to explain the formation of crystals, we must necessarily suppose 
that the integrant or similar molecules of bodies have each, 
according to the nature which is proper to it, a constant figure 
determined by the figure of the constituent principles themselves 
of those same molecules."^ To every substance then he assigned a 
special form, determined by the integrant molecules, which he called 
the primitive form, and from which he derived all the secondary 
forms which the same substance could assume, by supposing that 
the angles and edges were truncated. Haiiy, the contemporary of 
Kome de PIsle, established the law which governs those trunca- 
tions and modifications, and which is known as his law of sym- 
metry.2 This law may be briefly expressed thus : If any angle or 
edge of a crystal be removed by a truncation, or modified in any 
other way, all the similar edges and angles will be similarly modi- 
fied, and all the dissimilar parts will not be so modified, or will be 
modified differently. When the faces or edges which form the 
modified part are equal, the modifications produce the same effect 
on the form of the crystal ; in the contrary case, they produce a 
different effect. 

Even with a very limited number of simple types of form, the 
number of possible new or derivative forms, which this process of 
tnmcating the edges and angles could give, would be almost end- 
less. But there is a very beautiful natural law which is a necessary 
consequence of Haliy's theory of crystals, and limits the number of 
truncations which could occur on the crystalline form of each sub- 
stance. If we take a square bar or rod of wood, it will represent 
what we should in crystallography call a right square prism. Let 
the four end edges of one end of this be cut so as to make the end 
terminate in a little pyramid. Now such a pyramid may be made 
elongated or shortened, that is, we may point our bar with a long 
sharp four-sided point, dr we may make it quite stumpy. It is 
quite clear that between the shortest and the most elongated 

^ Crystallographie, 2d ed. torn. i. p. 22 ; Pari?, 1783. 

' Essai dune Theorie sur la Structure des Cnataux : Paris, 1784. 

438 The Progress of Chemical Science. 

ends we could suppose an almost infinite number of ends. Let us 
make the longest or most pointed end we can, and saw it off, so as 
to have a complete four-sided pyramid. Then let us make a, 
series of such pyramids, each succeeding one being more obtuse 
than the preceding one. The number, it is clear, would be limited 
only by our skill in marking the successive degrees of stumpiness. 
If we place these pyramids on a table in the order in which we cut 
them off, we shall have a series which will decrease in height from 
the sharpest to the bluntest. There are crystals of the shape of 
this bar, sometimes terminated by pyramids, but more frequently 
having only the edges cut off or truncated, presenting, in fact, the 
appearance of the first cut on the edges of the wooden bar ; these 
rudimentary faces may be completed in imagination by supposing 
them to be extended until they would form a point. Instead, 
however, of the endless series of points which we could cut on the 
bar, nature only produces a very limited number on the crystal of 
each substance. But the height of all those pyramids which actually 
occur, or may be completed in imagination on a particular crystal- 
line form, would present a remarkable relationship. If we select 
the height of one of them as a unit of measure, the heights of the 
others will be one and a half, twice, three times, four times, &c. the 
unit, or one-fourth, one-third, one-half, three-quarters, &c. of it; 
that is, the heights would be simple multiples or submultiples of 
one of them. This beautiful law applies to all possible figures, 
and we may consequently express it in general terms, thus : the 
parameters of all the faces which occur upon the forms in which 
a body crystallises, that is, so much of the half axes of a crystal as 
these faces cut, or may cut, if sufficiently prolonged, imless when 
the face is parallel to one or more of the axes, bear to each other 
the simple ratios above mentioned. 

An idea that such a law governed the weights in which bodies 
combined seems to have suggested itself to the minds of several 
chemists. Among others, we find it actually assumed by William 
HigginS; in discussing the composition of sulphurous and sulphuric 
acid, in a work of great ability, published in 1789 in defence of the 
views of Lavoisier, which, we believe, he was the first to adopt in 
Great Britain.^ Higgins does not seem to have been himself con- 
scious of the value of the ideas which floated through his mind, 
and no one else appears to have noticed them. Proust at a later 
period, in his controversy with Berthollet, almost touched it. It 
remained, however, for John Dalton to see the law in all its gene- 
rality. By connecting them with the ancient Greek corpuscular 
theory, he was able to reduce all the laws which govern the pro- 
portions in which bodies combine together by weight to the sim- 

3 A Comparative View of the Phlogistic and Antiphlogistic Theories; London, 

The Progress of Chemical Science, W9 

plest expression. Nothing can exceed in simplicity and beauty 
these four laws, which may be thus stated : 1. all bodies combine 
in definite proportions, and the same body is always composed of 
the same constituents, miited in the same proportions ; 2. sub- 
stances may combine in several proportions, and if one of those be 
taken as unity, the others bear the simple relations to them of 
1 to 1, 1 to 2, &c. ; 3. if certain weights of two bodies combine 
Tvitli a given weight of a third, they will combine with one another 
in the same proportion, or in a multiple or submultiple of it ; 
4. the sum of the weights of the constituents of a compound body 
represents the proportion in which that compound would itself 
combine with another body. The first, or law of definite proportion, 
was, as we have already seen, enunciated by Bergmann and Wenzel ; 
the second corresponds with the law of symmetry of Haiiy, and 
thus links weight and form ; the third is Wenzel's law of equi- 
valents; and the fourth, which is the direct consequence of the 
others, could only have arisen by the correlation of the others. 

Aided by the experiments of Wollaston and Thomson, but 
above all by Berzelius, the atomic theory was generally accepted. 
To the last-named chemist the world is indebted for the table of 
equivalents of the simple bodies, one of the noblest monuments of 
skill, labour, and perseverance of which any science can boast. 

If bodies combine together in multiple proportions, and if the 
geometrical forms in which solid bodies crystallise are developed 
according to an analogous law of growth, it must necessarily follow 
that there must be some relation between the volume or space oc- 
cupied by the gases or vapours of substances and the proportional 
weights according to which they combine. This relationship was 
discovered by Gay Lussac, who found that, when gases combined, 
the volumes of the combining gases and of the gas produced bore 
a very simple relation to each other, of 1 to 1, 1 to 2, and so on ; 
and that the law of multiple proportion by weight applied also 
to combinations by volumes ; that is, that there was a distinct con- 
nection between the weights of bodies and their volume, or, in 
other words, their specific gravities might be determined from 
their combining numbers. 

It is weU known that the same quantity of heat does not pro- 
duce the same heating effect as measured by the thermometer 
upon different bodies ; thus the quantity of heat which would 
elevate a given weight of water 3° would elevate a similar mass of 
mercury 83°. If we agree to represent the unknown quantity of 
heat which would raise a given quantity of water 1° by unity, it 
is obvious that the relative amounts of heat required for heating 
equal weights of water and mercury would be as 1 to l-28th, and 
these numbers would represent what are called their specific heats. 
If instead of equal weights of the two bodies we compare quanti- 

440 The Progress of Chemical Science. 

ties proportional to their atomic weights, we find that the specific 
heats are practically equal This curious discovery regarding the 
specific heats of the simple bodies was made by Dulong and Petit. 
Neumaim and Avogadro subsequently extended it to some com- 
pounds, that is, they found that similar compounds had nearly the 
same specific heats. But it is to ]\I. Regnault that we are indebted 
for the most complete and extensive investigations on this im- 
portant subject, by which the perturbations to which the law is 
subject were determined. 

Boyle and Mariotte long ago, in studying the effects of pressure 
upon air, recognised the existence of a law which, as expressed by 
the latter, is, that the volume of a gas is directly as the pressure, 
and the elasticity or spring which it opposes to compression inversely 
as that pressure ; that is, that if we double the pressure on a gas, 
we reduce its volume to half, and double its elasticity. This law 
was now applied to each gas as it was discovered ; but it was so6n 
found that very few followed it absolutely. We shall return again 
to the subject of these deviations. Another law of gases intimately 
connected with the law of specific heat and the law of Mariotte, is 
Gay Lussac's law of the expansion of gases. He found that equal 
volumes of different gases expanded equally with equal increments 
of heat. 

If the same force, whether mechanical or of heat, when applied 
to different gases caused their molecules to approach or recede an 
equal distance from each other, it was natural to suppose that under 
similar conditions the molecules of gases were equally separate from 
each other, and consequently equal volumes of the simple gases 
contained an equal number of atoms. The latter hyi^othesis, how- 
ever, introduced a distinction between equivalent — that is, the 
smallest quantity of a body which appeared to take part in the 
reaction by which bodies were formed or decomposed — and atom, or 
the smallest particle of matter which could not be further divided. 
An equivalent of chlorine and one of hydrogen occupy equal volumes, 
and consequently their specific graAdties are directly proportional 
to their equivalents ; that is, if we make the unit of comparison 
for both equivalents and specific gravity 1 of hydrogen, the equi 
valent and specific gravity will be the same. But an equivalent of 
oxygen taken as 8 occupies only half the volume of that of chlorine 
or hydrogen. Again, the volume of sulphur is only one-sixth of 
that of hydrogen, and consequently only one-third that of oxygen. 
Some of the other elements also were anomalous, but it did not ex- 
tend to their compounds; and so chemists were enabled to assume 
a theoretical volume for sulphur, and for some others, coiresponding 
to the volumes they appeared to enter into combination witL The 
simple bodies capable of being converted i»to gases accordingly 
arranged themselves under two categories — those the volume of 

The Progress of Chemical Science, 441 

whose equivalent was equal to that of oxygen taken as unity, and 
those whose equivalent occupied the space of that of hydrogen, 
or 2. There were two ways of equalising this difference, so as to 
make the symbols in a formula express equal volumes. One was to 
halve the received proportional numbers of the two-volume bodies, 
and to caU the halves atomic weights, so that some bodies would 
be always assumed to combine in two atoms, that is, two atoms 
would represent their equivalent ; while in the case of oxygen and 
the other one-volume gases, the atomic weight and equivalent would 
be the same. The second method would have been to double the equi- 
valent of the oxygen class, so as to make the proportional numbers 
of all the simple bodies correspond to equal volumes. The former 
method was adopted by Berzelius and the majority of chemists for 
a considerable time ; the second method, with some exceptions which 
will be noticed hereafter, is now preferred. If we consider water to 
be composed of one equivalent of oxygen and one of hydrogen, its 
formula would be HO ; if we look upon it as formed of two atoms 
of hydrogen and one of oxygen, we should write it HgO, the 
representing 8 if we assume the atomic weight of hydrogen to be 
half its proportional number. If, on the other hand, we make the 
atomic weight of hydrogen the same as its proportional number, 
and make the proportional numbers of oxygen and hydrogen re- 
present equal volumes, will be 16 as is now assumed. 

The relation between the density and the volume of gases sug- 
gested the importance of endeavouring to establish a similar con- 
nection between the density and volume of liquids and solids. The 
first who attempted it was M. Dumas; but tbe chemist who has 
laboured most at this difficult and somewhat barren task is Professor 
Kopp. Some of the specific volumes obtained for bodies which 
resemble each other in constitution a,re remarkable for simplicity. 
This subject will be the foundation of the new chemistry. Specific 
volume naturally leads us to consider the law of specific form, or 
the relation between the shape and composition of solid bodies. 
Starting from an observation of Gay Lussac, that potash and am- 
monia alums can mingle in all proportions, without the forms being 
altered, and that even the same crystal of alum may be alternately 
put into solutions of the two salts and still continue to grow 
without undergoing any perceptible modification, Mitscherlich 
established the law that salts, and in general compounds which 
have the same atomic formulae, may crystallise and mingle in all 
proportions in the crystal obtained, without the latter being modified 
in its fundamental form, although the angles undergo a slight 
alteration in their value. This identity of form and faculty of 
substitution is common to all classes of bodies, simple and com- 
pound, and was called by its discoverer isomorphism. Bodies were 
said to be isomorphic when they could crystallise in the same way, 

442 The Progress of Chemical Science, 

stand as substitutes for each other without changing the general 
character of the product, and be considered to have the same num- 
ber of atoms united in the same manner. 

While these remarkable laws, which connected in so beautiful 
a manner the weight, volume, and form of different kinds of matter 
on the one hand, and the relation of heat to all three on the other, 
were being investigated, the science was making gigantic strides 
in the other direction. The determination of the equivalents of 
bodies by Berzelius totally changed the character of chemical ana- 
lysis ; hundreds of new compounds were discovered annually, many 
by Berzelius himself, in the course of his experiments for the deter- 
mination of equivalents. The combinations of the simple bodies 
with oxygen, sulphur, and chlorine were especially examined, and 
careful analyses of the salts which those compounds mutually formed 
were made, while the introduction of symbolic nomenclature, also 
by Berzelius, enabled chemists to express with great facility the 
composition of bodies, and their views regarding the reactions which 
take place when different substances are brought together. The 
materials for framing a general theory to explain chemical phe- 
nomena were at length accumulated, and the task was undertaken 
by the man whose gigantic labour had gathered a large part of 
those materials. Before briefly explaining what that theory was, 
we must say a few words upon another fundamental point of con- 
nection, which had been previously established between chemical 
and physical phenomena. 

While Lavoisier and his contemporaries were forming a new 
science, Galvani, a professor of Bologna, made the memorable dis- 
covery that, when the lumbar nerve and the muscle of the thigh 
of a frog are brought into contact by means of a metallic arch, the 
muscle contracts. He attributed this phenomenon to an excita- 
tion produced by an electric discharge ; he looked upon the muscle 
as a kind of Leyden jar, charged on the inside with positive elec- 
tricity, and on the outside with negative electricity, the nerve and 
metallic arch acting simply as conductors. Although many of 
the theoretical views of Galvani have been shown to be erroneous, 
his experiments have been amply confirmed ; and we now know 
that the action of the muscles is accompanied by the development 
of electricity. So curious an observation could not fail to attract 
considerable attention at a time when the minds of scientific men 
were excited by the almost daily announcement of some important 
discovery. Galvani's experiments were repeated, and found to be 
correct ; but his explanations were disputed by several, especially 
by Volta, the professor of physics at Pavia. He endeavoured to 
show that the cause of the phenomenon was in the metalUc arch, 
and not in the animal organism. In endeavoming to establish 
this theory, he discovered dynamical electricity, and the instru- 

TJie Progress of Chemical Science, As^ 

ment by which it is produced — the voltaic pile or battery — un- 
questionably the most beautiful and important physical instrument 
yet discovered. We need not stop to discuss his theory of its 
action ; suffice it to say that a voltaic element consists essentially 
of two substances which combine chemically, and of a conductor. 
In practice we generally use sulphuric acid and zinc as the che- 
mical agents, and platinum, copper, or even charcoal, as the con- 
ductor. With this new instrument Mr. Carlisle and Mr. Nicholson 
succeeded, in 1800, in decomposing water and getting both consti- 
tuents free, at opposite poles of the battery, as if each was in a 
different state of electricity. Water being an oxide of hydrogen, 
could not dynamical electricity decompose other oxides too, and 
separate the constituents in a corresponding electro-polar con- 
dition ? Sir Humphrey Davy, by means of a very powerful voltaic 
battery, fomid that this was so, — that the decomposition of water 
was in fact a type of all electro-chemical decompositions ; that is, 
that the elements were separated, like those of water, at opposite 
poles, and therefore in opposite states of electricity. On sub- 
mitting potash and soda to the action of his powerful battery, he 
had the satisfaction to find that they decomposed into new metals, 
with properties totally unlike any of the metals known previously, 
and oxygen ; thus fully verifying the prediction of Lavoisier, that 
the earths generally were combinations of metals. These dis- 
coveries of Davy were not only important in themselves as a con- 
tribution to the chemical knowledge of matter, but they also 
formed the starting-point of that brilliant series of discoveries 
with which the name of Faraday especially will be for ever asso- 
ciated ; and lastly, they may be said to have been the origin of 
the electro-chemical theory. 

It is not necessary here to describe this theory in any detail ; 
it will be sufficient to state its general principles as it finally left 
the hands of Berzelius. Its fundamental principle was, that elec- 
tricity is the cause of all chemical activity, the source of the heat 
and fight observed in chemical reactions ; the latter forces being, 
perhaps, but transformations of the electricity. Matter was sup- 
posed to consist of finite atoms which were electrically polar, the 
poles of each atom not being of equal strength ; according as one 
or other pole was stronger, the atoms are electro-positive or electro- 
negative. Combination consists in the juxtaposition of those 
atoms ; all bodies that have a chemical relationship to each other 
assume, when they come in contact, opposite electrical states, the 
intensity of which is in proportion to their chemical relationship, 
that is, to their special nature, since in the electro-chemical theory 
an original difference of matter was assumed. If the mechanical 
contact passes into chemical affinity, the opposite electricities of 
the atoms more or less neutralise each other, and the signs of 

444 Tlie Progress of Chemical Science. 

electrical excitation more or less cease. When the compound thus 
formed is subjected to the action of a voltaic battery, the atoms 
again become electrically excited and separate, and are attracted 
by the poles in an opposite state from themselves. When two 
atoms combine they form a compound atom, which is mechanically, 
though not chemically, indivisible. As the strength of the che- 
mical affinity of bodies depends not so much upon the difference 
between the relative force of the poles of each atom as in general 
upon the intensity of the polarisation, which varies, however, with 
the temperature and other physical circumstances, and as this 
variation is not equal under like circumstances for all bodies, it 
rarely happens that the electricities of two atoms are completely 
neutralised by combination. According as the negative or positive 
electricity is in excess, so the compound will be either positive or 
negative. Two compound atoms may thus be able to form a still 
more complex mechanically indivisible atom, and so on. There 
were therefore simple atoms, complex atoms of the first degree, 
complex atoms of the second degree, and so on. All combinations 
taking place in virtue of electrical dualism, each class of atoms 
was divided into electro-negative bodies and electro-positive bodies. 
Among the simple substances, oxygen, sulphur, chlorine, &c. repre- 
sent the electro-negative elements, and the metals the positive ones ; 
the complex atoms of the first degree, or oxides, sulphides, &c., 
formed by the union of an electro-negative body and an electro- 
positive one, form two series likewise, an electro-positive and electro- 
negative one, the former being bases and the latter acids, which by 
their union produce salts ; while two salts may unite to form double 
salts, one of which may be supposed to be electro-negative to the 
other. From what we have stated with regard to the variation of 
electrical intensity in the same atoms, it will be evident that in 
many cases the same body may be electro-negative or positive 
according to circumstances. We have said that salts are atoms of 
the second degree formed by two complex atoms of the first de- 
gree. Berzelius called these salts amphid salts ; they included all 
the salts of oxygen and sulphur acids, with oxygen and sulphiu* 
bases. In the atoms of the first degree formed by chlorine, bromine, 
and the other elements of what is called the halogen group, the 
electro-polar intensities of their simple atoms so nearly balance 
each other, that they are nearly or entirely neutral. Accordingly 
Berzelius called them halogen salts. 

This theory afforded explanations generally satisfactory of most 
of the phenomena of chemistry known at the time, including the 
laws of combination by weight and volume, electro-chemical de- 
composition, isomorphism, and even BerthoUet's laws of chemical 
reactions, and was accordingly accepted by all chemists as a satis- 
factory theory of causation. 

The Progress of Chemical Science, 445 

At the time when the great laws of which we have attempted 
to sketch a brief history were discovered, the chemistry of organic 
bodies, — that is, of the materials and products of plants and ani- 
mals, — formed part of that nnoccupied territory of which there is 
much in every new science, and into which only a few bold pio- 
neers occasionally venture. Pourcroy, the greatest of the public 
teachers of Paris at the beginning of the present century, and 
fellow-labourer with Vauquelin, one of the founders of analytical 
chemistry, tells us, in his System of Chemistry, that the analysis 
of a vegetable may be very accurately made by separating some 
twenty substances. Until the true nature of the simple bodies, 
oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and carbon, was determined, nothing 
of course could be known of the ultimate composition of organic 
bodies. We may say the same of the proximate composition, that 
is, of the different compound bodies of which the organs of plants 
and animals are made up ; as the proximate compounds can only 
be accurately defined by making their ultimate analysis, that is, 
by determinmg the proportion of the different elements of which 
they are formed. 

Lavoisier considered that in every acid there was an acidifiable 
base, to which Guyton de Morveau aj)plied the term radical, 
united to the acidifiable principle oxygen. Scheele had discovered 
that when sugar is boiled with nitric acid it is converted into 
an acid ; which he proved to be identical with one existing natu- 
rally in many plants. Lavoisier looked upon sugar as such a 
radical, and oxalic acid as an oxide of it. Some time before 1817 
Berzelius had observed a certain similarity between organic and 
inorganic compounds of oxygen ; as, for instance, in the power of 
the former to combine, like the latter, with oxygen in several, and 
often multiple, proportions. Appljdng the principles of tlie-ekc-tro- 
chemical theory to the compounds, he concluded that they too 
should be looked upon as oxides. In the second Swedish edition 
of his Chemistry, he tells us, that " the difference between organic 
and inorganic bodies consists herein, that in inorganic nature all 
oxidised bodies have a simple radical ; while all organic substances, 
on the other hand, are made up of oxides with compound radicals." 
He looked upon inorganic bodies as the types of organic ones, but 
only in the sense that, whatever knowledge we may ever attain to 
about the composition and mode of formation of organic bodies, 
would come from the application of the ideas and methods of 
inorganic chemistry. He does not appear to have thought that 
our knowledge of organic chemistry would ever be very extensive ; 
for he believed that the same laws did not govern organic and 
inorganic combination, as the following passage in the last edition 
of his Chemistry will show : "In living nature the elements appear 
to obey quite different laws from those of inorganic nature ; the 

446 The Progress of Chemical Science, 

products which result from the reciprocal action of these elements 
differ therefore from those which inorganic nature presents. If we 
could find out the cause of this difference, we should have the key 
of the theory of organic chemistry ; but this theory is so concealed 
that we have no hope whatever of discovering it, at least for the 

Berzelius's idea that organic bodies were compounds of radi- 
cals led to no immediate practical results ; but Gay Lussac having 
shown that alcohol might be looked upon as a combination of one 
volume of the carbide of hydrogen olefiant gas and one of the vapour 
of water, and ether of two volumes of olefiant gas and one of 
the vapour of water, the view was adopted and extended by Dumas 
and Boullay in connection with their investigation upon the com- 
pound ethers. They concluded that olefiant gas, or, as they called 
it, etherine (C3HJ, plays the part of a strong base, and saturates 
acids like ammonia ; that alcohol and ether are hydrates, and the 
compound ethers salts of it. The analogy in composition, so far 
as formulse went, of etherine and ammonia, was certainly very 
considerable. The etherine theory was the first attempt to connect 
a number of bodies by a common link, and historically therefore 
is of great importance. 

In 1832 Liebig and Wohler discovered that a group of mole- 
cules represented by the formula C7H5O could perform the func- 
tions of a simple body, and be transferred unchanged during a 
number of reactions in which it was obtained in combination with 
oxygen, chlorine, bromine, iodine, sulphur, &c. To this group, 
which they did not succeed in isolating from its combinations, they 
gave the name of benzoyle. Berzelius at once adopted the con- 
clusions of the chemists just named, and extended them, in oppo- 
sition to the etherine theory, to ether and alcohol, by proposing to 
consider the former of those bodies as the oxide of a hypothetical 
group, or radical CgH^. Liebig in turn adopted this view of the 
constitution of ether, and called the radical ethyle ; and having 
established, by his investigations upon the acid formed by sul- 
phuric acid and alcohol called sulphovinic acid, the inadequacy of 
the etherine theory, he extended the radical theory to all com- 
pounds whose metamorphoses and derivatives had been sufiiciently 
examined ; that is, he considered organic bodies as compounds, in 
accordance with the electro-chemical theory, of groups of atoms 
performing the functions of simple bodies. 

After an impulse had been given to the daily accumulating 
observations of organic chemistry by the methods of analysis in- 
troduced by Gay Lussac and Th^nard, greatly simplified by Liebig, 
enlarged by Dumas's accurate method of determining nitrogen, the 
want of some general principle to link them together was so keenly 
felt, that the theory was at once accepted with general favour, until 

The Progress of Chemical Science. ^ 447 

an observation of Gay Lussac afforded the germ of totally different 
ideas. He found that when wax is acted upon by chlorine, chlor- 
hydric acid is formed ; that is, hydrogen is removed, while at the 
same time an equal volume of chlorine enters the wax. Dumas, 
following up this clue, found that eight volumes of hydrogen could 
be removed from oil of turpentine, and eight volumes of chlorine 
substituted for them. Pursuing his experiments, he came to the 
conclusion, that by the action of chlorine, bromine, iodine, organic 
bodies lost hydrogen, and took an equivalent quantity of the re- 
agent. To this class of reactions the terms metalepsie and substi- 
tution were applied. 

Laurent extended the examples of substitution by a series of 
remarkable investigations ; and, connecting the phenomena with 
the etherine theory, he constructed an extremely ingenious hypo- 
thesis known as the nucleus theory. In each organic compound 
he assumed a nucleus ; the simplest nuclei, unlike the radicals, are 
carbides of hydrogen, which can be got in a free state. These fun- 
damental nuclei he considered as geometrical figures formed of 
carbon and hydrogen atoms. Around these nuclei he supposed 
other atoms, elementary or complex, to be capable of grouping 
themselves without disturbing the equilibrium of the nucleus. 
These deposited atoms could be removed or replaced by others ; 
every addition, removal, or replacement altering the physical and 
chemical properties of the body formed. Neutral oxides were 
formed by the addition of one atom of oxygen, monobasic acids 
by the addition of two atoms, and so on. So far the etherine 
theory. Let us now see the part substitution played in his system. 
Both the radical and etherine theories admit that hydrogen could 
exist in two states in a compound, and substitution had demon- 
strated that it was so ; if it was admitted in the case of hydrogen, 
there was no reason why it should not be admitted in the case of 
all the elements ; there was nothing improbable therefore in the 
distinction between the nucleus and the atoms deposited upon it. 
Laurent supposed that the hydrogen of the nucleus might be re- 
moved in part or wholly, and its place occupied by chlorine, bro- 
mine, iodine, &c., and even by oxygen, sulphur, and several com- 
pounds. So long as the atoms removed were replaced by equivalent 
quantities of others, the group remained constant in its general 
chemical functions, its physical properties, such as density, boiling 
pomt, &c., changing of course with each atom substituted ; but 
then the changes thus produced would be regular, and might be 
predicted to some extent. When a substitution was effected in 
the fundamental or primitive nucleus, it was called a derivative 
nucleus, so that there were as many derivative nuclei as possible 
substitutions in the fundamental one. As each derivative nucleus 
could be the centre of a series of combinations outside it, in the 

448 The Progress of Chemical Science, 

same manner as the primitive one, the number of possible chemical 
compounds became enormous. This system presented for the first 
time a means of systematically classifying all organic bodies, of 
indicating their possible affinities, of predicting or anticipating 
many of the compounds that might be obtained in certain re- 
actions, and even of predetermining to some extent their physical 
properties and chemical functions. Its advantages as the basis 
of a classification are shown by its having been adopted for that 
purpose by Leopold Gmelin in the last edition of his Chemistry. 

The researches and views of Laurent, the investigation by Eeg- 
nault of the changes which take place by the continued action of 
chlorine upon olefiant gas, and still more the discovery of chloro- 
acetic acid, or acetic acid, in which three-fourths of the hydrogen 
have been substituted by chlorine, by Dumas, led that chemist to 
reject altogether the electro-chemical theory, and propose in its 
place his theory of types. "When an organic body was treated with 
chlorine, bromine, &c., so as to remove hydrogen and replace it 
by an equivalent quantity of the reagent, the body was supposed 
to have maintained its type, and the substituting element or com- 
pound, no matter what might be its electro-polar character, occu- 
pied the place, and performed the functions of the replaced element. 
If the substitution took place without altering the chemical func- 
tions of the original body, both it and the derivative were said to 
belong to the same chemical type ; but if the substitution was 
accompanied by a definite change in chemical functions, the two 
bodies would be said to belong to the same mechanical or mole- 
cular type. Dumas extended his views to inorganic chemistry 
also ; and looking upon isomorphism as the indication of similar 
molecular constitution, he considered isomorphic gToups contain- 
ing the same number of molecules as types, such, for instance, 
as the alums. We have seen that Berzelius looked upon the laws 
of inorganic compounds as the starting-point of investigations into 
organic compounds. Dumas, on the contrary, declared at a very 
early period that he had " the firm conviction that the future pro- 
gress of general chemistry would be due to the application of the 
laws observed in organic chemistry." And he said farther that, 
''far from confininor ourselves to take the laws of inoroanic che- 
mistry and introduce them into organic chemistry," he thought 
that " one day, and very soon perhaps, organic chemistry would 
give laws to mineral chemistry.'' In the electro-chemical theory 
the nature of the molecules governed the phenomena, and con- 
sequently i\iQ\v position in a compound depended upon tlieir nature. 
When Berzelius makes inorganic chemistry the type upon which 
he supposes the organic bodies to be formed, he evidently believes 
that, even in the multitude of compounds which carbon forms with 
two or three elements, the nature of the atoms is still the cause of 

The Progress of Chemical Science. 449 

all differences of property. The type theory, which, properly speak- 
ing, is not a theory in the same sense as the electro- chemical, 
bemg but an expression of facts without any attempt to explain 
the causes, evidently implies that the properties of bodies are the 
result of the position rather than of the nature of the elements of 
which they are composed. This is the fundamental distinction 
which exists between the two directions in which chemical spe- 
culations have tended for nearly thirty years. 

According to the views of Berzelius, a radical was an un- 
changeable atomic group ; while it was wholly opposed to the 
fundamental principles of the electro-chemical theory to suppose 
that so electro-negative an atom as chlorine could perform the 
same functions in a group as hydrogen. He could not therefore 
accept the doctrine of substitution without giving up his own views. 
A warm controversy began between the advocates of the radical 
and types theories, the former endeavouring to account for the facts 
discovered by the latter by a mere sliifting of formulae. The mass 
of new facts which were brought forward on both sides in the course 
of this discussion profoundly modified both views. In the first place, 
it became evident that although the supposed radicals could be 
transferred unchanged in a series of double decompositions, just 
in the same manner as a simple body, they could not be considered 
as fixed and unchangeable groups. They were in fact nothing 
more than residues, or the parts of groups, which remained un- 
affected in a series of double decompositions. As the same com- 
pound could break up in many different ways, we could assume as 
many radicals in the same substance as there would be residues 
unaffected in all its possible double decompositions. There was no 
reason, therefore, to select some particular one of those residues, 
and consider it the radical of a series of compounds, except for the 
superior advantage which it might present for classification, by 
being the residue most frequently left in the more usual reactions. 
On the other hand, the successive substitution of chlorine and 
other bodies for hydrogen diminished its basyle power, and the 
substitution of acid residues even converted it into an acid. 
Chlorine and those acid radicals, although taking the place of 
hydrogen, did not therefore, strictly speaking, perform exactly the 
same function. This mutual modification of the rival hypotheses 
led to the development of a new type theory, which also admits of 
the hypothesis of compound radicals, but only in the sense of resi- 
<lues ; while the types themselves are only to be looked upon as 
convenient arrangements of formulcie for grouping together bodies 
which in double decompositions appear to react according to a 
common type. This new theory, although developed under the in- 
fluence of perfectly independent ideas, harmonises so beautifully 
with the new views on the nature of force, that it may be said to 

450 The Progress of Chemical Science. 

have prepared chemistry for being inckided at once in the general 
d3mamical theory of natural phenomena, which is now for the first 
time slowly unfolding itself to our minds. Before briefly describing 
this new view, it may be well to say a word upon the different 
ideas out of the convergence of which with those of the radical 
and first type theory it arose. We will not follow a strictly his- 
torical order, since to do so, however desirable, would be incom- 
patible with our space. 

Sir Humphrey Davy thought that the oxygen acids of chlorine 
might be considered as chlorhydric acid to which oxygen was suc- 
cessively added, and consequently that the amphid salts of those 
acids might be assimilated to the chlorides of the metals. Dulong 
adopted this view, and extended it to all acids ; that is, he taught 
that all acids are compounds of hydrogen with an electro-negative 
body, which is either a simple or compound radical. Liebig suc- 
cessfully applied this hypothesis to the organic acids, and greatly 
extended the idea of acid by defining it to be a hydrogen compound 
whose hydrogen could be displaced by a metal, — a definition which 
includes not only water, but even hydrates of the alkalies ; Gra- 
ham having shown that the different kinds of phosphates might be 
explained by supposing that there were three distinct phosphoric 
acids, distinguished by the amount of water which they contained. 
Thus the acid with one equivalent of water formed salts with only 
one equivalent of base ; that with two of water formed salts with 
two of base ; and lastly, that with three of water gave salts with 
three of base. He called these acids monobasic, bibasic, and tri- 
basic respectively. Upon the hypothesis that acids were hydrogen 
compounds, monobasic phosphoric acid would be supposed to con- 
tain one equivalent of hydrogen displaceable by a metal, and the 
tribasic three. Liebig found that a large number of organic acids 
belonged to the class of polybasic acids. One of the most charac- 
teristic distinctions of such acids is their faculty of forming several 
classes of salts, according to the amount of hydrogen which they 
contain. Thus we may form a salt with a tribasic acid by replac- 
ing one of hydrogen by one of metal ; another by replacing two of 
hydrogen by two of metal ; and a third by replacing the whole of 
the hydrogen by three equivalents of metal. 

This fertile hypothesis of the constitution of acids was rendered 
more definite by Laurent and Gerhardt, who established several 
important characteristic distinctions between the acids of different 
degrees of basicity. Thus they found that a monobasic acid never 
gives an acid silver salt by double decomposition, that it only 
forms one ammonia salt, one silver salt, one neutral ether, and one 
amide, that is, a substance formed from the ammonia salt by 
the loss of water ; bibasic acids give two ethers, — one neutral 
and the other acid, — two amides,— one neutral and the other 

The Progress of Chemical Science, 4j5l 

;i monobasic acid ; and so on. Clilorliydric acid is analogous to 
monobasic oxygen acids in tlie indivisibility of its hydrogen ; 
water and sulphide of hydrogen, on the other hand, present striking 
analogy to bibasic acids in admitting of their hydrogen being 
ilivided. Besides organic radicals, almost every metal forms two 
oxides — a hydrated one, which may be compared to the acid salt of 
a bibasic acid, the anhydrous oxide — and also two corresponding 
sulphides. Led by this analogy, Laurent and Gerhardt doubled 
the equivalent of water, and consequently of sulphide of hydrogen 
and of the simple bodies oxygen and sulphur ; a proceeding justified 
already, as we have seen, by the convenience of making the equiva- 
lents of the simple bodies represent as far as possible equal volumes. 
On comparing the fornmlaj of organic compoimds, the chemists 
just named observed that in nearly all of them the number of 
oxygen, sulphur, and carbon atoms, in supposing them to represent 
the old equivalents, and not the double ones just spoken of, was 
even ; while the sum of the hydrogen and chlorine atoms, or other 
body supposed to substitute hydrogen, was always divisible by two. 
They argued that this could not be an accident, but must be due to 
the elements themselves ; hence they thought that the formulae of 
.substances which were exceptions to this rule should be doubled, 
so as to make them accord with it. Here was another reason for 
doubling the eqiuvaleiit of water. When this change was made in 
the formulgc, it was noticed that the volume of nearly all organic 
compounds in the state of vapour was double that of hydrogen ; 
and, further, that nearly all volatile inorganic bodies had the same 
volume. If the specific gravity of all simple bodies, the volume of 
whose equivalent w^as equal to that of hydrogen, was the same as 
their proportional number when hydrogen was adopted as a com- 
mon standard for both, it was evident that the specific gravity — 
compared to hydrogen — of the vapour of any compound which 
followed the rule we have just stated, should be equal to half its 
equivalent, no matter how many atoms it might contain. 

The classical experiments of Chevreul on fats and oils, and the 
subsequent ones of Redtenbacher, Laurent, and others, had made 
known a immber of organic acids, consisting of carbon, hydrogen, 
and oxygen. Dumas, on coordinating them, observed not only that 
they all contained the same amount of oxygen united to different 
proportions of carbon and hydrogen, but also that those different 
proportions were multiples of C2H2, or if we double the equivalent 
of carbon, as is now done, of CHo. Gerhardt saw at once the evi- 
dent relation of this observation to the rule of atomic pairs above 
mentioned, and he was led to classify organic compounds into 
similar series, the members of each of which should have the 
same chemical function, the same quantity of oxygen, &c., while 
their carbon and hydi-ogen should differ by CHo, or a simple 
VOL. IV. h h 

453 The Progress of Chemical Science, 

multiple of it. Of course the carbides of hydrogen containing 
no oxygen could be arranged in similar series. He called those 
series homologous. He ftirther observed that when the bodies 
forming a homologous series are subjected to the same reaction, 
they yield analogous products, which, when the reaction is simple, 
are homologous to one another. On putting the formulae of a 
number of such kindred homologous series arranged into columns 
side by side, so that the corresponding bodies containing the same 
amount of carbon may be in the same horizontal line, another re- 
lationship becomes apparent ; the corresponding bodies will differ 
from each other by multiples of Ho. This relationship is termed 
isology. The classification of bodies into homologous series effected 
a revolution in chemistry, for it brought together bodies between 
which no one had suspected any relationship to exist. A third 
kind of series, called a heterologous series, may be supposed to 
consist of bodies containing the same radical, to which one or more 
equivalents of oxygen, sulphur, &c. are successively added. Hetero- 
logy applies to inorganic as well as to organic bodies ; but homo- 
logy and isology belong exclusively to the compounds of carbon, 
though Mr. Sterry Hunt suspects that the former may be obseiTcd 
in certain mineral types. From the isomorphic and other ana- 
logies of silicon and carbon this is to be expected. 

Among the many substances which the proximate analysis of 
plants brought to light were certain crystalline compounds con- 
taining nitrogen, which have the property of forming salts with 
acids, such as morphia, quinia, &c. Berzelius looked upon those 
bodies to be what he called conjugate compounds of ammonia, with 
different radicals containing carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. In 
conjugate compounds the associated bodies were supposed to un- 
dergo very little modification by being joined together, and the am- 
monia was therefore considered to exist as such in the natural 
bases. Liebig, on the other hand, considered that they were deri- 
vatives of ammonia, formed by the separation of hydrogen either 
as chlorhydric acid, water, &c., from ammonia by the action of 
electro-negative chlorides, or of oxides, &c., and the substitution of 
NHo ; or, in other words, that they were organic bodies of the same 
type as the ammonia salts of copper, zinc, mercury, &c., called by 
Sir R Kane amides, and therefore quite analogous to oxamide — a 
body obtained by Dumas in heating the neutral oxalate of am- 
monia so as to remove from it the elements of water. This in- 
genious suggestion was the starting-point of the disco veiy of an 
almost innumerable number of compounds, although the view of 
Liebig has been somewhat modified. The production of aniline, as 
the first example of this class of bodies directly produced, deserves 
to be specially noticed. Fritsche, by distilling indigo with hydrate 
of potash, obtamed a basic oil to which he gave the name aniline. 

The Progress of Chemical Science, 4S8 

When the light part of coal-tar naphtha, which consists in great 
part of a carbo-hydrogen called benzine, is acted upon by strong nitric 
acid, a dense oil, having the odour of oil of bitter almonds, and known 
as nitro-benzid, is obtained ; it is a substitutive compound in which 
one equivalent of the hydrogen is replaced by NO^. When the 
oxygen compounds of nitrogen are acted upon by sulphide of hydro- 
gen, their oxygen is converted into water and their nitrogen into 
ammonia, while sulphur is precipitated. Professor Zinin imagined 
that the same reaction ought to take place upon the nitrogen com- 
pound in the nitro-benzid ; and if so, tlie ammonia formed would 
remain in the compound instead of the hydrogen originally dis- 
placed. The experiment succeeded, and he obtained an oily basic 
substance, which Professor Hofmann proved to be identical with 
aniline, and with a basic body which had been obtained from tar. 
Immense quantities of aniline are now made by this process for 
the purpose of preparing other bases from it, which yield the rich 
purple, crimson, and other dyes now so largely used. 

The mode of formation of aniline just given is quite in accord- 
ance with Liebig's view, for we may suppose one equivalent of the 
hydrogen of benzine to be replaced by NHo. But the bases ob- 
tained by M. Wurtz, containing the radicals of common alcohol and 
its homologues, lead to the view that those bases are ammonia, in 
which one equivalent of hydrogen is displaced by the radicals in 
question. As the hydrogen of ammonia can be divided into three 
parts, we ought to be able to get three different bases, according 
as we substitute one, two, or three equivalents of the hydrogen ; 
and this was done by Prof Hofmann, who has pursued this subject 
of organic bases with such rare patience, perseverance, and skill, 
that he has created a whole department of chemistry. 

When alcohol is moderately heated mth sulphuric acid it yields 
ether : the usual explanation given of this process was, that sul- 
phuric acid separated water from the alcohol, and consequently 
that alcohol was a hydrate of ether, which in turn was an oxide of 
ethyle. Alcohol and ether, therefore, bore to each other the same 
relation as hydrate of potash and anhydrous oxide of potassium. 
Although the process of etherification consisted essentially in the 
separation of water, still there was a difficulty in explaining it. 
Professor Williamson resolved the difficulty, by proving that, when 
sulphuric acid, which is bibasic, and alcohol come together, a 
double decomposition takes place, by which the radical of one 
equivalent of alcohol CoH. exchanges place with one equivalent of 
the hydrogen of the acid, by which the alcohol becomes water and 
the acid sulphovinic acid, that is, an acid salt of ethyle ; when this 
acid salt comes in contact with another equivalent of alcohol, an- 
other exchange takes place, one equivalent of the hydrogen of the 
alcohol exchanges place with the ethyle of the acid salt, by which 

454 The Progress of Chemical Science. 

the latter becomes sulphuric acid and the alcohol ether. Ether 
has coiisequeiitly a formula double of that usually assigned to it. 
Alcoliol may, therefore, be supposed to be derived from water in 
which one equivalent of its hydrogen (for, from what we have said 
already about the analogy of water to bibasic acids, we shall always 
speak henceforth of water mtli an equivalent double that formerly 
assumed) is substituted by one of ethyle, and ether from one of 
water in which the two equivalents of hydrogen are replaced by 
two of ethyle. Hydrate of potash corresponds to alcohol, and 
anhydrous oxide of potassium to ether. As in other bibasic acids, 
we ought to be able to substitute for the two equivalents of hydro- 
gen in water two different metals ; and this we can do, for if 
hydrate of jiotash be heated with zinc, the second equivalent of 
liydrogen is driven out, and zinc takes its place. An analogous 
compound to this would be an ether containing two distinct radi- 
cals ; a class of compounds of which Professor Williamson pre- 
pared several examples, thereby furnishing a comjDlete test of the 
constitution of ether. 

If hydrous and anhydrous oxides, alcohol and ether, are consti- 
tuted upon the type of water, so must acids be also ; and if so, 
the anhydrous acid, or, as it is now called, the anhydride, must 
bear the same relation to the acid properly so called as anhy- 
drous oxide of potassium does to the hydrous oxide, and as ether 
does to alcohol ; and we ought to be able to get mixed anhy- 
drides corresponding to Williamson's mixed ether, that is, an- 
hydrides with two distinct radicals, which, by combining with one 
equivalent of water, ought to split into two distinct acids. Here, 
again, experiment confirmed theory ; for not only did Gerhardt 
succeed in getting the anhydrides of a number of acids by processes 
which fully tested the theory, but he also produced a number of 
mixed anhydrides. 

Gerhardt generalised these views of the relations of acids, bases, 
alcohols, and ethers to water, by proposing to represent all the 
reactions of bodies, inorganic as well as organic, by four types of 
double decomposition. 

I. For chlorides, bromides, iodides, fluorides, cyanides, he se- 
lected as the type chlorhydric acid HCl. If in this type we sub- 
stitute the hydrogen by aU the metals successively we get the 
protochlorides of the metals. On the other hand, if we substitute 
the chlorme by bromine, iodine, &c., we get the corresponding 
bromides, iodides, &c. 

XL The type water tt(0 includes: 1. hydrous basyle and 

chlorous oxides, sulphides, selenides, and tellurides, organic as weU 
as inorganic, — that is to say, hydrous metallic oxides, alcohols, 
organic and inorganic acids, and acid salts of polybasic acids, inclu- 

-N, and includes all the 

The Progress of Chemical Science. 455 

sive of vinic acids, or acids in whicli the whole of their displace- 
able hydrogen is not substituted by metals ; 2. anhydrous oxides, 
sulphides, selenides, and tellurides, includin.o- basyle anhydrides, or 
oxides, sulphides, &c., which are derived from water by the sub- 
stitution of all the hydrogen, and which form salts with acids, 
with the formation of one or more equivalents of water, or sul- 
phide of hydrogen, &c., according as they are oxides or sulphides, 
kc. ; simple and mixed ethers, or anhydrides formed by the sub- 
stitution of two molecules of the same or diiferent alcohol radicals, 
or an alcohol radical and a metal ; compound ethers, or ethers 
containing both a basyle and chlorous, — that is, acid, radical ; and 
lastly, amphid, basic, and neutral salts, or compounds in which 
the hydrogen of water is replaced by a metal and by a chlorous or 
acid radical. 


III. The thii-d type is ammonia H 


derivatives of ammonia formed by the substitution of part or the 
whole of the hydrogens by metals, alcohol, and acid radicals, and 
even by the metallic radical H^N, or ammonium. Some of the 
derivatives of this type may be acids ; for if we substitute acid 
radicals for the hydrogen, as Gerhardt did, we get neutral or acid 
bodies according to the extent to which the substitution is carried. 

IV. The fourth type, hydrogen HH, represents the simple 
bodies and the compound radicals, which are of two kinds : first, 
those composed of two atoms of the same radical ; and secondly, 
those composed of atoms of different radicals. When one of the 
atoms is hydrogen and another an acid radical, we have the bodies 
caUed aldehydes, of which common aldehyde is an example. 

Each of those types is supposed to represent a volume of vapour 
double that of hydrogen ; consequently the hydrogen type is made 
to consist not of one atom of hydrogen, but of two. Now this is 
not an arbitraiy proceeding for the purpose of equalising the vo- 
lumes, but appears to be really founded upon the properties of free 
elements. It has, in fact, been found that whenever chlorine, bro- 
mine, iodine, &c., act upon organic bodies, two equivalents always 
take part in the reaction, and two of hydrogen are always eli- 
minated. This circumstance has led chemists to the conclusion 
that the simple bodies in their free state are compounds ; for in- 
stance, that the radical hydrogen when in combination is not the 
free gas, but that the latter is a combination of hydrogen with 
hydrogen, free chlorine is a chloride of chlorine, &c. Indeed, in 
the case of the alcohol radicals, this may be considered to have 
been proved experimentally. Professor Kolbe and Professor Frank- 
land, by decomposing ethers with a voltaic battery, obtained what 
they considered to be the free radicals ; these bodies represent in 

456 The Progress of Chemical Science, 

reality two atoms, as has been proved by decomposing the mixed 
ethers, when mixed radicals ai^ produced. It is right to remark 
that this view of sim2)le bodies follows also as a necessary con- 
sequence from the electro-chemical theory. Moreover, it introduces 
a distinction between atom, molecule, and equivalent. An atom is 
the smallest quantity of a body that can exist in combination ; a 
molecule is the smallest quantity which exists free ; and an equi- 
valent is the relative quantity of a body which displaces another. 
Experiment shows us that all bodies do not displace each other 
atom for atom. Many of the metals, chlorine and the other 
halogens, and many organic radicals replace each other and hydro- 
gen atom for atom, and may hence be called monatomic. Oxygen, 
sulphm", seleniimi, and several radicals always act in the ratio of 
1 to 2 of hyckogen or other monatomic body, and may therefore 
be called biatomic. One atom of nitrogen, phosphorus, arsenic, 
antimony, bismuth, &c. represents three of hydrogen ; while car- 
bon, silicon, boron, titanium, tin, and some others appear to be 
tetratoniic. This idea of polyatomic radicals and molecules, which 
appears to have first suggested itself to Professor Williamson as 
an explanation of bibasic acids, has completed the new theory of 
types. It enables us to connect our four types, and to reduce them 
to their simplest expression — miity. The type chlorhydric acid, 
water, or ammonia, does not imply one equivalent only of those 
bodies, but may include multiples of them ; so that we may assume 
a body to be formed on the type of the chlorides, but derived from 
two or more equivalents of the type, which are as it were rivetted 
together by a polyatomic radical removing the hydrogen. In this 
way we may derive bichlorides, terchlorides, &c. from two, three, 
or more equivalents of chlorhydric acid, deutoxides, and teroxides, 
from two and three equivalents of water ; and so on. Again, we 
may suppose the fundamental type of aU types to be one or 
more molecules of hydrogen. If we substitute one atom of hydi'o- 
gen in a single molecule by one atom of chlorine, we have the 
chlorhydric acid type ; and as both are monatomic, the volume of 
the type occupies the sum of the volume of its constituents. Next, 
if we suppose two atoms of hydrogen to be replaced in two mole- 
cules of hydrogen by one of the biatomic radical oxygen, we get 
the type water ; two molecules of hydi'ogen represent eight volumes, 
but when the biatomic atom replaces fom' volumes, the compound 
contracts to four volumes. Again, if in three molecules or twelve 
volumes of hydrogen we suppose the triatomic radical nitrogen to 
replace three atoms or six volumes of hydrogen, we have the type 
ammonia, which likewise shrinks to four volumes ; and so on. In 
this way the type chlorhydric. acid has the same volume as the 
molecule from which it may be supposed to be derived, the type 
water only hal^ and ammonia one-third. 

The Progress of Chemical Science, 457 

We owe to Hofmann, Wnrtz, and Bertlielot chiefly, the experi- 
mental extension of the doctrine of polyatomic radicals — the first 
in introducing them into ammonia ; the second by the discovery of 
glycols, that is, alcohols whicH are to common alcohol what bibasic 
acids are to monobasic acids ; and the third by the establishment 
of triatomic and higher alcohols. A monatomic alcohol, such as 
common alcohol, by losing two atoms of hydrogen forms an alde- 
hyde ; and the latter by taking up one equivalent of oxygen be- 
comes a monobasic acid. Again, the radical can successively dis- 
place one, two, three, or fom' equivalents of hydrogen in ammonium, 
and form four distinct bases. We can get the alcohol to form com- 
binations with all acids giving rise to bodies known as compound 
ethers ; and lastly we can get chlorides, bromides, &c. of the radical. 
But we have not finished yet. Besides ammonia, there are the sub- 
stances phosphamine, arsamine, and stibamine, or ammonia in which 
phosphorus, arsenic, and antimony respectively replace the nitro- 
gen ; in each of these the alcohol radical can successively displace 
one, two, three, or four equivalents of hydrogen, and form peculiar 
bodies. From one alcohol, therefore, we may get several thousands 
of compoimcls belonging to each of the four types. With a bi- 
atomic alcohol we can get corresponding bodies ; but it can act 
as if it consisted really of two distinct monatomic atoms, which can 
simultaneously imdergo the same reaction, or two distinct and 
separate reactions, each atom being altered in a special manner. 
For instance, both may unite -svith an acid, or with another alcohol, 
or one only may do so, while the other oxidises or loses hydrogen 
and changes its functions, and yet both remain united after the 
separate changes. All this happens with a triatomic, a hexatomic, 
or a higher alcohol only, though in these cases we have to deal with 
three, six, or more alcohols, which may act together ; or one may 
act and the others remain inactive ; or two, three, four, or five 
may act together or separately, the remainder being inactive. For 
example, if we take a hexatomic alcohol, we may combine one, two, 
three, or four equivalents of it with one of ammonia, by which the 
combining power of the ammonia would be extinguished, but the 
combuiing power of the alcohols would only be partially extin- 
guished, so that we may then commence upon the compound as if 
it were a twenty-atomic alcohol. We need not proceed farther in 
this play of atoms. Wliat we have said will suffice to show how 
boundless a field is open to chemical industry for the manufacture 
of new bodies. We are tempted, however, to quote from M. Ber- 
thelot a passage which will give a better idea than mere figures 
can do of the extraordinary number of compounds which theoreti- 
cally are possible jQrom the combination of all the known acids set 
down at a minimum of one thousand with a single hexatomic 
alcohol, without taking into account aU the other compounds we 

458 The Progress of Chemical Science, 

noticed above. *' Suppose," lie says, " that we were to inscribe the 
names of these bodies in a series of volumes ; suppose that each 
name occupied a line, each page 100 lines, and each volume 1000 
pages, each would contain 100,000 names. If we then take these 
volumes to range them in order in libraries, the size of which 
should be equal to that of the Imperial Libraiy, each of these 
libraries would contain about 1,000,000 of these books. Well, 
then, it would take 14,000 such libraries to contain, not the de- 
scription, but the names alone of the bodies of which I speak. The 
edifices destined to contain this list alone would cover a space 
almost as large as Paris."* 

With each advance in theory the mioccupied territory of che- 
mistry had diminished; so that, after the introduction of Ger- 
hardt's classification according to homologous series, only a very 
small area was without the pale of a chemical constitution. Unfor- 
tunately, however, that area included the most important part of 
the subject ; for nothing whatever was known of the true nature 
of the compounds of which the organs of plants and animals are 
formed. These unclassed bodies, as they were known in 1854, 
M. Berthelot divides into six categories, which, somewhat modi- 
fied, we may enumerate as follows : 1. neutral fat bodies, or oils, 
butters, and solid fats of plants and animals ; 2. neutral saccharine 
bodies, represented by carbon united to the elements of water, 
such as cane, grape, and milk sugars ; 3. other neutral principles, 
some soluble and some insoluble, composed likewise of carbon 
united to the elements of water, cellulose, and other substances 
constituting the framework of plants, starch, gums, dextrine, &c. ; 
4. neutral principles, consisting of carbon and the elements of 
water, but containing a slight excess of hydrogen or of oxygen, 
such as mannite, glycerine, &c. ; 5. a number of bodies, the majority 
of which crystallise, and which, under the influence of acids and 
other reagents, split into some kind of sugar and other bodies, such 
as salicine, amygdaline, tannins, certain colouring matters ; and (i. 
the quaternary albumenoid bodies, such as albumen, fibrin, &c. 

The first class of bodies was the subject of Chevreul's masterly 
investigations, by which he showed how organic substances were 
to be examined. M. Berthelot had succeeded in performing the 
converse of Chevreul's experiments,- — that is, he had effected their 
synthesis by combining glycerine or fat sugar with the oily acids ; 
and in doing so he had shown that glycerine could form three 
successive compounds with each acid, for he did not confine his 
synthesis to fat acids alone, but obtained compounds analogous to 
fats with almost any acid, and, among others, with phosphoric 
acid, a compound which M. Pelouze had already recognised in tlie 
brain. M. Wurtz having suggested tliat glycerine was a triatomic 
■• Sur les Principes Sucris— Lemons de Chimie et de Physique professies en 1862. 

The Progress of Chemical Science, 459 

alcoliol, the nature of fats was at once determined, — tliey were 
ethers. M. Berthelot saw at once that this idea might be extended 
to mannite and to the sugars ; and accordingly he attempted to 
form with those bodies comi)Ounds analogous to ethers, in which 
he was very successful. His synthetical experiments showed him 
that mannite and glucose, or grape sugar, were hexatomic alcohols, 
while cane sugar is ether. Sugars belong to at least two classes : 
1. glucoses, which may be generally represented by the formula 
CgH^oOe, such as ordinary glucose of grapes, levulose or left- 
handed sugar, galactose or the glucose obtained from sugar of 
milk, inosine, a substance existing in animal muscles ; 2. saccha- 
roses of the formula CioHooOji, among which may be named sac- 
charose or common cane sugar, lactose or sugar of milk. All the 
glucoses are hexatomic alcohols ; while the saccharoses are ethers 
formed by the union of two glucoses, and the separation of the 
elements of water, as in the formation of all ethers. Starches 
M. Berthelot considers to have higher formulae than those assigned 
to them ; they are at least trisaccharides, formed by the union of 
three equivalents of some glucoses, and the elimination of three 
equivalents of water. Dextrine is at least a disaccharide. In the 
same way, he thinks cellulose, fibrose, vasculose, paracellulose, 
the substances of which, the walls of cells, fibres, vessels, and the 
medullary columns of plants are formed, are ethers of glucoses, 
probably disaccharides ; but we think them much more complex 

The fifth class of bodies is very extensive, and appears to per- 
form important functions in plants. Its history would form a yqij 
interesting chapter ; but our space will only allow us to give a few- 
instances of the manner in which bodies belonging to it break up, 
and a general statement of their composition, viewed in the light 
of the theory of polyatomic alcohols. The common tannic acid of 
gall-nuts spUts into gallic acid and right-handed grape sugar; 
while the tannic acid of the Madura tinctorial or fustic, splits 
into glucose and a gallic acid homologous wath true gallic acid ; 
they are both trisaccharides. The colouring matter of the Quercus 
tinctoria, quercetrin or quercetric acid, splits into glucose and a 
yellow crystalline substance called quercetine ; quercetrin is ho- 
mologous with a body called phloridzine, found in the bark of the 
apple and pear tree, and which splits into glucose and phloretine, 
which is homologous with quercetine. In the bark of some species 
of willow there is found a white crystalline substance called sali- 
cine, which splits into glucose and saligenine ; in the poplar we 
have a corresponding substance called populine, which yields glu- 
cose, saligenine, and benzoic acid. Salicine is therefore a mono- 
saccharide, that is, an ether of the hexatomic alcohol glucose, in 
which only one of the atoms is extinguished ; while populine is a 

460 The Progress of Chemical Science, 

disaccharide which has two of the atoms extinguished by com- 
bination with two distinct bodies. To the same class of mixed 
compounds belong also amygdaline, a body found in the seeds of 
most of the plants belonging to the family to which the plum, the 
cherry, the almond, &c. belong, and also in certahi laurels, and 
which, in contact with a kind of ferment, also present in the 
plants, splits into glucose, oil of bitter almonds, and prussic acid; 
and myronate of potash, a salt existing in mustard, which, under 
the intiuence of a ferment likewise present in the mustard, splits 
into oil of mustard, acid sulphate of potash, and glucose. Oil of 
bitter almonds and oil of mustard do not therefore exist ready 
formed in the almond and mustard seeds. Another of those curi- 
ous sacchaiides is cork, which, so far as we can yet determine, 
contains a glucose and one or more fat acids. The cutine or ex- 
ternal layer or epidermis of plants appears to be an ammonia 
derivative of a saccharide, and therefore a link between the gluco- 
sides, as this curious class of bodies which we have included under 
the fifth category is called, and the sixth and last category of 
bodies unclassed in 1854, about which we shall now say a few 

White of Qgg consists chiefly of a body composed of carbon, 
hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, which has the property of coagu- 
lating by heat, and is called albumen. The same body, or at all 
events a very closely-allied substance, is found in the blood ; while 
a second variety occm's in the juices of plants. In the clot of 
blood another substance is found, which appears to be identical 
with the fibres of muscle, and is hence termed fibrhi. A third 
substance occurs extensively in the milk of animals, and under the 
name of casein is known as the pure substance of cm-d. These 
bodies are so closely related that analysis can scarcely detect any 
difference of composition between them, and they may be appa- 
rently transformed into each other. We may conveniently name 
them from their soluble type albumenoid bodies. Besides those 
mentioned, we find in the seeds of plants a number of sub- 
stances which apparently belong to this class, and perform an 
important function in the germination and florescence of plants. 
Perhaps those found in different families of plants are different 
bodies. In animals too we find a number of simdar substances 
which appear to stand in close connection with the albumenoid 
bodies ; such, for instance, as the matter that constitutes the lens 
of the eye, mucus, &c. Diastase, emulsin, and all other kinds of 
ferments, except those which consist of the mycelium of some 
species of fungus, appear to be modifications of some of them. 
M. Berthelot has not extended the theory of polyatomic radicals to 
those bodies ; and yet there can be no doubt that they too are 
derivatives of polyatomic alcohols, apparently ammonia deriva- 

The Progress of Chemical Science. 461 

lives, and in some eases also more complex ones of the mixed 
alcohol and ammonia type. 

Cutine, or the epidermal layer of leaves, bulbs, &c. contains only 
about 2| per cent of nitrogen ; the chitine of insects, which forms 
not only the wing-cases of lepidopterous insects, but also the organic 
part of the tegumentary covermg of crabs and other Crustacea, the 
scales and hau'S of insects, and the mantle of the oyster, and many 
parts of the tissues of the lower animals, such as the trachea and even 
a layer of the intestinal canal, has only about 6 1 per cent of nitro- 
gen ; chondiin of the tendons and ligaments has 14^ per cent ; 
tibrin and albumen have about 15 per cent. We have pointed out 
above that cutine is a derivative of a hexatomic alcohol obtained 
"vvith ammonia. So long ago as 1845 Professor C. Schmidt of Dor- 
pat suggested that chitin contained the elements of a cellulose 
and a nitrogenous body, having the composition of the muscles of 
insects. There exists in a muscle, as a normal constituent of some 
part of the mass, one of the sugar family, called inosite ; and, in- 
dependent of the fact that animals secrete as a constituent of milk 
a saccharide lactose, or sugar of milk, it is well kno^vn that sugar is 
abundantly found in diseases of the lungs, and in several other dis- 
eases of the body, sometimes in very considerable quantities. Ac- 
cording to Dr. Schunck, the plants which yield indigo contain a 
soluble substance to which he gave the name of indican ; when 
boiled with strong acid it splits into a particular kind of sugar and 
blue indigo. The latter may be looked u]3on as the aldehyde of 
another body which is white and soluble. The peculiar sugar of 
the indican is a polyatomic alcohol, and the blue indigo may be 
looked upon as an ammonia derivative of some body related to the 
benzoic series. The apparent analogy which exists between the 
production of indigo from indican, and the production of chloro- 
phyle, or green colouring matter of leaves in blanched buds, and 
of the red colouring matter of blood from white chyle, led us to 
suspect that both are the products of the decomposition of a gluco- 
side. On treating white chyle globules with peroxide of hydrogen, 
a portion of the white chyle became red, and traces of some kind of 
sugar could be detected in the solution. 

But we cannot follow out these relations any further. Enough, 
iiowever, has been said to show that step by step the chemist has 
traced up the chemical transformations of matter until, as we have 
just seen, there remains but one gi'oup of bodies of whose con- 
stitution he has not more or less learned the secret ; and that even 
that class itself, the very bodies by which the functions of animal 
life are carried on, has had a beam of light thrown upon it from 
the lamp of science. 

We learn too from this analysis that as we proceed upwards 
the compounds become more and more complex. A group of atoms 

46^ The Progress of Chemical Science* 

constitntiiig the smallest free part of a body is made up of a great 
number of individual groups of simpler composition, and each of 
these again of others still simpler, until at length we reach tlie 
simple bodies. The more complex a group, the more unstable it 
is ; that is, the more easily it is broken into a number of simpler 
groups. Thus a triatomic alcohol is less stable than a monatomic 
one. Still more unstable are the hexatomic ones. So in a homo- 
logous series the more condensed substances are the most easily 
decomposed when heated. Again, the corresponding compounds 
formed by analogous substances are not equally stable ; thus, phos- 
phamine, which may be looked upon as ammonia in which phos- 
phorus replaces nitrogen, is far more liable to change than common 
ammonia or its derivatives ; indeed the complex derivatives of such 
a body must be among the most imstable substances of which w^e cau 
conceive, and therefore it is that they enter into the composition of 
the nerves and brain. When nervous or cerebral matter decays, we 
get among the products of phosphamine and its derivatives. Again, 
in the brain itself we find the materials out of which those remark- 
able bodies are elaborated in the form of an acid ether of phos- 
phoric acid with the triatomic alcohol glycerine, the alcohol of the 
majority of the fats. How complex and unstable must be the com- 
pounds which, in decomposing, serve to convey every thrill of plea- 
sure, of hope, of sorrow, every act of the will ; which enable us to 
distinguish the waves that produce light, whose length is measured 
in miUionths of an inch and their duration in millionths of a second, 
and to distinguish the quality and velocity of each wave in the storm 
of sonorous vibrations produced by a great orchestra ! 

But chemists no longer proceed by way of analysis. The classifi- 
cation by homologous series and types of double decomposition ; the 
division of reactions into homologous, isologous, and heterologous ; 
and the study of the reagents which produce either of those classes 
of reactions under given conditions of temperature and other circum- 
stances, — all this has opened the way to the synthesis of organic 
bodies with almost as much certainty as that of mineral bodies, 
making allowance for the great instability of the former. Although 
the first synthesis of an organic body was effected so long ago as 
1828 by Wohler, it is only since about 1850 that the state of the 
science has admitted of its being attempted with success. The first 
chemist who took up the subject in a systematic way was Professor 
Kolbe ; but it is M. Berthelot who has been most successful, both in 
the number and importance of his syntheses. His researches have 
given a new direction to organic chemistry. Chemists are no longer 
satisfied with mere analysis; synthesis must confinn the conclusious 
of analysis. Within the last few years hundreds of oro^anic com- 
pounds have been made without the aid of life ; and there can be no 
doubt but that in a few years, notwitlistanding the opinion of Berze- 


The Progress of Chemical Science, "i^S 

lius that we could not hope to imitate the products of life, we shall be 
In a position to reproduce artificially the majority of the substances 
which constitute the proximate prmciples of plants and animals. 

Tlie establishment of the new theory of types has abolished the 
distinction between oroanic and inorganic chemistry, — a distinc- 
tion which ought henceforward not to be kept up in teaching the 
science. The synthesis by double decompositions has removed the 
last barrier between them. And thus has been fulfilled a prediction 
of M. Dumas : " If I attach some importance to seeing this useless 
barrier which still separates the combinations of the two kingdoms 
disappear, it is precisely because I have the firm and profound 
conviction that the future progress of general chemistry will be 
rlue to the application of the laws discovered in organic chemis- 
try."^ How completely the author of this observation anticipated 
the character of the progress that has since been made, the preced- 
ing pages show. 

The new type theory, like, the old one, is, strictly speaking, not 
a theory of causation ; to frame such a theory we must look upon 
chemical phenomena from a far wider point of view. We must 
get rid of those notions of the independence of phenomena, which 
the division of physical science into departments for its more con- 
venient pursuit engenders in our minds, and see how chemistry is 
to be made part of a great whole, embracing all branches of phy- 
sical science. The correlation which has been established between 
electricity, light, and heat, and the intimate relation they have 
with chemical action, show clearly that they are all due to the 
action of the same cause. The theory which attributes light to 
undulations of a medium of great tenuity, may be said to be now 
universally accepted. The labours of Sir William Herschel, See- 
beck, Sir David Brev/ster, De la Eoche, Berard, Melloni, Forbes, 
Knoblauch, Baden Powell, De Senarmont, and others, have assimi- 
lated heat and light, and proved that the phenomena of the latter 
can only be explained by a system of undulatory movements, 
wliich, when they take place in the same ether or medium as light, 
produce the phenomena of radiant heat; and when these finer 
waves communicate their motion to particles of ordinary matter 
they produce those phenomena of expansion, changes of physical 
state, and others which constitute an apparent distinction between 
heat and light. Indeed Melloni, so long ago as 1842, may be said 
to have demonstrated the identity of the two forces, subject to the 
test of the decisive experiment of interference, that capital pheno- 
menon by which Dr. Young established the undulatory theory of 
light upon a firm basis. This decisive experiment may be de- 
scribed as the production of cold by the simultaneous action of 
two rays of heat, just as we produce blackness from two rays of 

^ Train de Chimie appliquCe mix Arts, torn. y. 

464 TJie Progress of Chemical Science. 

light mutually extinguishing each other. It was effected in 1847 
by M. Fizeau and M. Foucault. 

The moment we admit that heat is a motion capable of being 
communicated to the molecules of matter, we institute a connection 
between heat and the motion of masses. Lavoisier said that in 
chemical combination matter was not annihilated or created, it 
was only changed in form. We may now say the same of motion ; 
we cannot create or annihilate it, we can only change its character 
or direction. Energy or motion may, however, be dissipated ; 
thus the sun is always sending off countless waves of light and 
heat, which, although not annihilated, are lost to our system. 
When a weight falls to the ground, its motion is arrested, but 
it is not annihilated ; it is merely transformed into molecular 
motion or heat. So if a wheel be made to rotate by a given 
force and we suddenly arrest it by an obstacle, the rotatory mo- 
tion, like the rectilineal one, is transformed into heat. The work 
done by any force may always be compared to that required to 
lift a weight to a certain height; thus, the work which is ex- 
pended in lifting a pound weight one foot, or which would be 
available by allowing it to fall one foot, is called a " foot-pound ;" 
or, as in France, and generally by scientific men out of Great Bri- 
tain, the work which would be expended in lifting one kilogramme 
to a height of one metre is called a " kilogrammetre." The mecha- 
nical effect which a force produces, say in setting bodies in motion, 
in lifting a load, or in other purposes to which machines are 
applied, depends not only on the force, but on the distance through 
which it acts. Thus, if we employ the force of gTavity to produce 
a mechanical effect by means of a falling weight, we shall find that 
the work done during this fall is proportional to the quantity of 
the weight and the height from which it descends. Wlien a body 
falls, the velocity acquired is proportional to the time of its fall, — 
that is, the velocity of a body at the end of the second second of 
its fall is double, and at the end of the third second three times, 
that at the end of the first. The height fallen through is, on the 
other hand, proportional to the square of the time, or, what is the 
same thing, augments in the same proportion as the square of the 
velocity, which is proportionate to the time. If we impart to a 
body the velocity which it had acquired when its motion was 
arrested, while falling from a given height, it will rise to the 
same height ; but as the distance travelled increases as the square 
of the velocity, if we double the velocity of a projectile it will 
travel four times as far; if we quadruple it, it will go sixteen 
times ; and so on. The mechanical effect produced by a weight 
falling or expended in projecting it being proportional to the 
height, and the latter being proportional to the square of the velo- 
city, the power represented by any motion may be expressed by 

The Progress of Chemical Science. 465 

the product of the mass of the body in motion multiplied by the 
square of its velocity. Now if the whole of the motion of a falling 
body be converted into molecular motion, or, which, with the ex- 
ceptions we shall presently make, is the same thing, into heat, it is 
clear that the amount of heat produced by arresting a body in 
motion augments as the square of the velocity, and that we have 
a standard whereby to measure the relation between heat and 

The new views regarding heat which have been put forward 
during the last twenty years, and which are based upon the equi- 
valence of heat and motion just stated, are only a development of 
tlie Newtonian theory, which enables it to embrace the motions of 
molecules as well as of ma,sses. It does not come within our 
present scope to show how the experiments of Davy and Rumford, 
and the mathematical investigations of Bernoulli, Fourier, and 
Sadi-Carnot have been developed by Seguin, Mayer, Joule, Colding, 
Thomson, Rankine, Helmlioltz, Clusius, and others, into the first 
outlines, not merely of a theory of heat, but of a general dynamical 
theory of energy. Our object is only to direct attention to the 
bearing of this theory upon chemistry, and especially to show how 
profoundly it will modify the fundamental ideas of chemical phe- 
nomena. We may, however, state that the idea of equivalence 
between heat and the motion of masses, in the sense in which it is 
now understood, appears to have first occurred to Dr. Julius Robert 
Mayer of Heilbronn, and Mr. Joule of Manchester. The former 
attempted to determine its value, though perhaps upon an erroneous 
basis ; but his application of the hyjwthesis to animal power and 
heat, and to the solar system, show clearly that his ideas were 
correct. Mr. Joule worked out the subject experimentally with a 
perseverance that has rarely been equalled. These two men may 
therefore be considered as having mthout rivalry linked the phe- 
nomena of molecular motion to that of universal gravitation, and 
laid the foundation for a new theory which will embrace all physical 
phenomena. By long and varied experiments Mr. Joule deter- 
mined the mechanical equivalent of heat to be 772 foot-pounds, 
or, expressed according to the French standard, 425 kilogrammetres ; 
that is, he determined that the amount of heat which would raise 
the temperature of a pound of water one degree Fahrenheit would, 
if all applied mechanically, be sufficient to lift one pound weight 
772 feet high, or 772 pounds one foot. And conversely, if a weight 
of one pound falls 772 feet, it ought to produce a quantity of heat 
sufficient to raise the temperature of one pound of water one 
degree. We have thus a means of determining the true work of 
machines and of chemical action. 

Before addressing ourselves to the connection between the dy- 
namical theory of heat and chemical action, we must point out a 


4G6 I'he Progress of Chemical Science, 

distinction which exists between passive and active forces. When 
we wind up the weight of a clock, we store up force wliich would 
become active if the string were cut, so as to allow the weight to 
fall. In this case the whole of the stored-up force would be ex- 
hausted at once, and would be transformed into heat when the weight 
struck the ground. If we allow the weight to descend slowly by- 
means of its coiled string, it sets the clock in motion, and the 
weight on reaching the ground produces no heat. Now the force 
stored up in the weight before it begins to descend is usually called 
possible or potential energy or tension, while the energy which the 
weight has acquired in falling is called active, actual, or dynamical 
energy. According as the weight falls, the potential energy de- 
creases, but tlie active energy increases, the sum of the two being 
always constant. 

When we heat water or any other body exposed to the air, two 
phenomena may be observ^ed, — the body grows bigger, that is, ex- 
pands, and the substance gets hotter, that is, the mercury in a 
thermometer applied to it will also expand, and it will produce the 
sensation of heat when the hand is brought into contact "with it. If 
we place the water under such a pressure as to prevent the expan- 
sion, we shall find that the quantity of heat which is required to 
produce the same elevation of temperature that was acquired in 
the open vessel will be less. Tlie difference between the two quan- 
tities was used in producing the expansion ; these two quantities 
are called the specific heat mider a constant pressm-e, and the 
specific heat at a constant volume, the former being always greater 
than the latter. The difference between the two specific heats 
affords us, therefore, a means of determining the relative amount 
of mechanical force required to keep the particles of a body at a 
certain distance apart. Before the water began to expand, the particles 
were held together by a certain force which had to l3e overcome 
before the particles began to separate. The portion of the heat 
lost in this operation is said to perform interior work, which, being 
a work used in overcoming resistance, is negative, that is, it is ab- 
sorbed ; while the expansion is called exterior work, and is also 
negative. The sum of the two constitutes dynamic energy ; while 
the portion of heat which produces the effect of temperatiu'e may 
be considered as potential energy. 

The quantity of heat which produces the same amount of po- 
tential energy is the same for all the simple bodies, according to 
the law of Didong and Petit. Generally speakuig, when a law is 
established in a science it is expressed in a form which is at once 
simple and absolute ; bye and bye perturbations are detected in its 
action. The beautiful researches of M. Regnault have shown that 
these perturbations extend to xa ^^ the whole specific heat in the 
case of the simple bodies. The cause of these perturbations is 

The Progress of Chemical Science, 467 

obviously to be sought for in the action of the interior work, 
making due allowance for the errors arising from the difficulty of 
determining the specific heat of bodies under constant j^ressure. 

The specific heats of atoms being assumed equal, it is evident 
that we can determine the atomic weights from the specific heats 
of equal quantities of the elements. The atomic weights thus ob- 
tained are not always identical with those adopted by chemists ; and 
to distingTiish those thus calculated they are called therr^ial equi- 
valents. Thus while the thermal equivalent of carbon is 12, or that 
now adopted as the atomic weight by chemists, that of oxygen is 
8, sulphur 16, potassium 19 5, and sodium 11*5, that is, half the 
chemical equivalents. Some chemists use this as an argument 
against doubling the equivalents of oxygen ; but to be consistent they 
should also adopt the thermal equivalents of sodium and potassium. 
The chemical and thermal equivalents, although sometimes iden- 
tical, and always multiples or submultiples of each other, should 
not be confounded. The difference is undoubtedly connected with 
the chemical polyatomicity of bodies, and will help one day to 
reveal some important molecular law. 

Just as we may explain the perturbations of the specific heats 
of atoms by differences in the relative amount of interior work 
required to change the position of the atoms in different substances, 
so we may in like manner explain the perturbations of the law of 
isomorphism by the unequal amounts of interior work performed 
in different parts of a system of molecules. As the sum of the 
interior work constituting the dynamic energy which is employed 
in expanding a crystal along its different axes of elasticity may be 
assumed to be in direct proportion to their lengths, except in ob- 
lique crystals, while the proportion used in interior and exterior 
work may be very different along each axis, it will follow that the 
rate of expansion along each axis will be different. It may happen 
that the whole of the dynamic energy may be used in interior 
work, along one axis, so that no expansion will take place in that 
direction. In crystals belonging to the oblique systems, the ratio 
of dynamic energy will not be in the ratio of the lengths of the 
axes ; and it may therefore even happen that such a crystal, as 
in the case of gypsum, may contract in one direction while it ex- 
pands in the others on the application of heat. As the rate of 
expansion is uniform along each axis, the law of symmetry is not 
affected by temperature, and consequently the law of multiple 
proportion is independent of temperature. The rate of expansion 
of crystals of isomorphic bodies not being equal, they would not 
equally expand along their corresponding axes when exposed to the 
same temperature ; that is, the ratio of the interior and exterior 
work would not be the same in each. M. Sainte Claire Deville 
thinks that it might be possible to find for each series of isomor- 

voL. IV. i i 

468 The Progress of Chemical Science. 

phoTis substances a temperature at which the unequal expansions 
of two different crystals would compensate each other, and both 
would then have equal angles and be absolutely isomorphic. This 
is quite possible in a few cases, but it could not be generally true. 
In fact, the perturbations in the angles of isomorphous crystals are 
due to absolute differences in the arrangement of some constituent 
group of their molecides. 

It is evident from the foregoing observations that the interior 
work of heat is that which is most connected mth chemical phe- 
nomena. Did our space permit, we might show its relation to 
latent heat, and many other phenomena ; but we must content our- 
selves with a few observations on the theory of gases and homo- 
logous groups, — the one because it shows how completely the new 
theory of heat has already solved many of the difficulties con- 
nected with that form of matter, and the other because it will 
show how much may be expected from the study of this class of 

Let us suppose -a limited space to be occupied by a number of 
molecules separated from each other by such a distance as to be 
removed from the influence of their reciprocal actions. If these 
molecules be in motion, they will move with a uniform velocity in 
straight lines. As a consequence of this movement, each of the 
molecules in turn would strike against the other, or against the 
walls of the vessel, mi til a mean condition would be established 
in which we should assume the molecules to be continually moving 
in every possible direction. The molecules which approach or 
impinge against each other must necessarily alter each other's path, 
and ultimately strike against the vessel. In consequence, however, 
of the distance of the particles, the number of them which at any 
given moment are striking against each other or the walls, or 
moving in paths modified by their impinging against several mole- 
cules at the same time, is insignificant compared to the number of 
molecules whose motion is rectilineal ; or, what comes to the same 
thing, the duration of the epochs of perturbations are insensible 
compared with the epochs of uniform motion. Hence the action 
upon the vessel would not sensibly differ from what it would be if 
we were to suppose that all the molecules travelled continually in 
straight lines and in all imaginable directions mthout meeting 
each other. This fictitious system is accordingly substituted for 
the real in considering the properties of gases. The constant 
striking of the molecules against the sides of the vessel produces 
pressure, which it is easy to see must be equal in all directions ; 
and from what we have already said of the relation of force to 
velocity and distance travelled, it is evident that Mariotte's law is 
a simple consequence of this theory. The law of dilatation and of 
specific heat may also be deduced from it 

The Progress of Chemical Science, 469 

The superiority of this theory over that of La Place is nowhere 
better sliown than in the explanation which it affords of the per- 
turbations which affect the law of Mariotte in the case of the ma- 
jority of gases. Only hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen can be said 
to approach the condition of perfect gases according to the preceding 
theory; all other gases deviate more or less from it, especially under 
considerable pressures. To explain these deviations we have only 
to suppose the ratios of the epochs of perturbations, while still 
remaining small, to become sensible, in order to produce at once 
deviations fi'om the strict laws of pressure, dilatation, and specific 
heat. When the epochs of perturbation become considerable, — that 
is, when the moving molecules mutually interfere so as to cause 
them to unite into groups, constantly breaking up and forming 
anew, — part of the motion is arrested and transformed into heat, we 
have a liquid, and the heat evolved is the latent heat of vapour. 

When we burn solids in gases the phenomena of heat and light 
are produced by the constant rain of gaseous molecules which strike 
the solid, and the motion of which, being arrested, is in part con- 
verted into heat, and in part into the molecular motion of the 
molecules of the compound ; — combination itself being only the 
shock of different molecular systems, by which part of the motion 
is arrested and converted into heat, and a new molecular system 
moving with a velocity equal to the difference between the sum of 
the velocities of the constituents, and the equivalent of the heat 
produced by combination. The nearer bodies approach in proper- 
ties, that is, the nearer in kind and direction the motions of two 
systems are, the less heat will be produced by their combination, 
because the motions of one system will not interfere much with 
those of the other. Such compounds are easily broken up, because 
only a smaU part of the original potential force of their constituents 
has been converted iiito heat, and lost. If part of the potential 
energy of the constituents of a body be lost by the act of combina- 
tion, the new system cannot be broken up, and the constituents 
again set free, without an equivalent quantity of motion to that 
lost as heat being suppUed. Hence we can understand why it is 
that the organs of animals and plants are made up of polyatomic 
alcohols which evolve very little heat in their combination, but 
keep it stored up for the final object of the production of heat and 
motion in animals ; we get this stored-up heat when we burn wood. 

It foUows from the new theory of gases, that if in any vapour 
we substitute one of the atoms by a denser one, we increase the 
ex)0chs of perturbation, and may do so even to the extent of con- 
verting the body into the Hquid state. This explains why olefiant 
gas, when part of its hydrogen is displaced by chlorine, becomes 
hquid. In the homologous carbides of hydrogen we have the same 
result ; every successive addition of CHg increasing the density of the 

470 The Progress of Chemical Science. 

vapour and the magnitude of the perturbations in the gaseous state 
at the same temperature. When two bodies unite, each of which 
is capable of uniting with a third singly, heat is evolved. If tliis 
compound be then broken up by combining with the third sub- 
stance, the heat evolved ought to be less than would be evolved 
if the third body had combined with corresponding quantities of 
the constituents not united. The homologous carbides of hydro- 
gen, and apparently all their homologous derivatives, are exceptions 
to this rule. Thus the quantities of heat produced by the combus- 
tion of equal weights of CoH^ and CoqH^o do not differ, according 
to the experiments of Favre and Silbermann, by more than 8 per 
cent of the total quantity evolved by the first body, olefiant gas ; 
and yet the second body is a solid, and may be looked upon as a 
compomid of ten molecules of the first, compressed in the state of 
gas into the volume of one. Every one knows what a very great 
force would be required to compress a gas into y\- of its volume. 
It is consequently a measure of that which is engaged in keeping 
the ten molecules of C0H4 in the homologous form of CoqH^o- 
The phenomenon of allotropism of simple and compound bodies, 
that is, the existence of the same body in two or more condi- 
tions, diff'ering in physical properties, may perhaps be classed with 
that of homologous bodies. In the case of allotropic oxygen, or 
ozone, that remarkable substance which is formed, among other 
ways, by the passage of electricity through air, the specific gravity 
appears, from Dr. Andrews's experiments, to be sensibly four 
times that of oxygen, or four volumes of common oxygen con- 
densed into one.^ According to the rule which we have given 
above — that the specific gravities of the simple bodies are propor- 
tional to their equivalents — the specific gravity of the vapour of 
sulphur ought to be 2*2 compared to air. Dumas found by ex- 
periment that it was QQ, or, in other words, that one volume of 
the vapour of sulphur contains three times as many molecules as 
one of oxygen. M. Bineau found, however, that when the vapour 
was heated to about 1000° cent, or 1800° Fahr., it expanded into 
a gas which had one-third of its original specific gravity, that is, 
one in accordance with theory. The experiment has been repeated 
lately by M. Sainte Claire Deville and M. Troost, and they fix the 
temperature at 860° cent; the same thing occurs with the va- 
pours of selenium and tellurium. It is worthy of note in these 
cases that the specific gravity in the allotropic state is a multiple 
of that in the ordinary state. In all these cases the motion which 
would represent the heat of combination, and in the case of the 
liquid and solid carbides of hydrogen a part at least of the lat-ent 
heat of one or both states also, is employed in interior work. There 
is no more wonderful example of the adaptation of means to an 
end in the economy of nature than this retention of heat by the 

The Progress of Chemical Science. 471 

homologous bodies. All the organs of plants and animals consist 
of such compounds, which are condensed without loss of motion, 
while this very storing up makes their materials more ready to 
enter into new and stable compounds, and thus to set free the 
stored-up force as animal heat and motion. 

As the vapour of a compound rises in temperature, the pertur- 
bations of its gaseous motions diminish ; the molecules ultimately 
split up into simpler ones, as the vibrations or revolutions, or 
whatever be the kind of motion of the atoms of each molecule, 
increase in velocity. Even the elements of water cannot remain in 
combination at a very high temperature ; and it is probable that 
there is no compound known to us which can exist at very intense 
temperatures, — certainly none of those which can be converted into 
vapour. If we could continue to raise the temperature, would the 
molecules of the simple bodies also split up into simpler systems ? 
and if so, where would be the limits of greatest simplicity? Are 
the simple bodies higher members of homologous series, which, like 
sulphur, decompose at successively higher temperatures into simpler 
and still simpler molecules? Would the simplest molecules be 
those composing the ether which is diffused through space, and 
whose molecules are so simple that they serve to convey the won- 
derful vibrations of light and heat? If not, what then is this 
ether, millions of cubic miles of which would scarcely weigh a pound? 
To consider it as a passive medium conveying the undulations of 
light and heat, without being affected, like all other matter, by 
them, is wholly inconsistent with all known physical laws. The 
extent of the action of light and heat upon it during any given 
time may be safely neglected in mathematical, but not in physical, 
investigations. If the solar and stellar systems be but segregations 
or condensations of ether, and consequently the simple bodies but 
certain groups or systems of molecules on the type of homologous 
compound radicals, the force which has been absorbed in their 
interior work must be enormous ; for most of our metals exist in 
the solar atmosphere, as has been established by spectrum analysis. 

When light is admitted to a darkened chamber by a long 
narrow slit, so as to pass through a triangular bar or prism of 
solid glass, or a hollow one filled with certain transparent liquids, 
the waves of different length and velocity which, by their simul- 
taneous action on the eye, produce the impression of white light, 
not bemg equally refracted in passing from the air to the glass on 
one side, and from the glass to the air on the other, are separated, 
so that instead of a long bar of white light we see a stripe composed 
of different coloured bands. This is what is known by the very 
inappropriate name of the solar spectrum. In the year 1814 
Frauenhofer, a celebrated optician of Munich, following out an 
observation of Dr. WoUaston, found that the spectrum was crossed 

472 The Progress of Chemical Science. 

by a number of black bars or lines, not only towards the ends 
where it faded into obscurity, but in the brightest part towards 
the middle, which were invariable in position, so that he was able 
to tabulate them by distinguishing each by a letter of the alphabet 
according to its position. By the use of more powerful instru- 
ments Sir David Brewster added to the number ; but Prof Kirchoff 
now, by still better instruments, finds that there are thousands of 
these lines. Sir David Brewster also found that other black lines 
made their appearance when the spectrum was examined as the 
sun approached the horizon. These new lines were supposed to be 
due to atmospheric absorption by the vapours near the horizon, 
while the permanent lines of Frauenhofer were considered to be 
due to causes beyond our atmosphere. 

The spectrum s produced by other sources of light were next 
examined, and even those of the stars. It was soon found that 
when light passed through certain gases and vapour, as, for ex- 
ample, peroxide of nitrogen, the lines were increased ; while when 
certain substances were in a state of ignition in a flame, coloured 
lines of gTcater brightness were observed. Indeed, Frauenhofer 
himself had noticed that the flame of a wax-candle gave such bright 
lines. Led, no doubt, by these observations, different physicists, 
as Sir David Brewster, Swan, and others, examined the spectrums 
of the flame of alcohol holding salts in solution, and found bright 
lines in difierent parts of the spectrum. Swan even noticed the 
presence of a bright yellow line when a little common salt is 
added to the spirit of wine. Such was the state of the subject 
when it was taken up by Professor Bunsen and Professor Kirchoft*. 
They systematically investigated the action of substances in pro- 
ducing bright lines, and found that it depended on the metal. 
Finding, when they examined the saline substances left on evapo- 
rating certain mineral waters, and also certain minerals, some lines 
which were new to them, they concluded that the bodies examined 
contained new metals. These they succeeded in isolating, and 
gave to them the names of caesium and rubidium. Afterwards 
Mr. Crooks, by the same means, discovered a third metal, the 
compounds of which have been studied by M. Lamy, and to which 
the name thallium has been given. 

Each metal is not distinguished by a single line, though, as in 
the case of sodium, one is so brilliant, and the other so unimport- 
ant and requiring such good instruments, that we speak only of 
the yellow sodium line. Potassum produces three recognisable 
lines, one in the red, another in the violet, and a third much fainter 
intermediate line. Lithium produces two lines, a pale yeUow and 
a bright red. The metals belonging to the group of alkaline earths 
give much more complicated spectrums than the alkaline metals : 
strontium, for instance, gives eight lines, — six red, one orange, and 

The Progress of Chemical Science, 473 

one blue ; calcium gives three, but only in intense flames, — green, 
red, and blue ; while iron gives no less than sixty. The quantities 
of those bodies which produce the lines for such a length of time 
as to be caught by the eye is so small as to give us a faint image 
of the molecules of the cosmic ether. It is calculated that the 
ynoouijotb part of a miligramme of sodium can be detected by 
this means. 

In 1847 M. A. Matthiesen proposed to account for the black 
lines of the solar spectrum by the absorption of the light in the 
solar atmosphere ; an explanation which was received favourably 
by Sir David Brewster and Dr. Gladstone, who, before the dis- 
coveries of Bunsen and Kirchoff, had used the prism to determine 
the absorptive powers of different solutions, and had obtained some 
very important results. Professor Stokes, in his curious experi- 
ments on fluorescence, a name given to the phenomena presented 
by certain liquids and solids of radiating as light a part of the 
heat which they absorb, suggests, if indeed he has not somewhere 
given, a similar explanation. In the year 1849 M. Toucaidt, while 
observing the spectrum of the flame of the voltaic arch, observed a 
yellow line due to some compound of sodimn volatilised by the 
flame, part, no doubt, of the ash of the charcoal-points ; but when 
the sun's rays were allowed to traverse the voltaic arch, this yellow 
line became black. Professor Kirchoff appears not to have known 
of this remarkable experiment when, in 1859, he discovered that 
the bright line produced by a sodium flame occupies the exact 
place in the solar spectrum of one of the lines of Prauenhofer, and 
that most of all the other bright lines produced by difi'erent metals 
correspond to some of the dark lines of the spectrum. The expla- 
nation of the phenomenon is given by Poucault's experiment : A 
gas or vapour absorbs the particular rays which it emits itself. 
Professor Kirchofl" made the splendid generalisation that the light 
of the sun comes from the solid mass which contains the metals 
whose lines have been found to correspond to the dark lines of 
Prauenhofer; these substances are also in vapour in the solar 
atmosphere, and consequently the rays in passing through that 
atmosphere have those emitted by the metals extinguished. If we 
could examine the spectrum of the light of the solar atmosphere 
itself, without the intervention of those from the solid nucleus, the 
dark lines would appear bright. 

ThLs law of absorption applies also to heat ; that is, vapours 
absorb those heat-rays which they can best radiate, as has been 
shown by De la Prevostaye, Stewart, and Kirchoff", and confirmed 
by a beautiful series of experiments by Professor Tyndall. It ap- 
pears from these experiments, as we might indeed expect, that as 
the density of the vapour increases the absorption increases also ; 
but we cannot know from them whether the absorption follows any 

474 The Progress of Chemical Science, 

regular law in the homologous series. We would suggest to Pro- 
fessor Tyndall to make the delicate experiment of testing the va- 
pours of a few of the homologous carbides of hydrogen, which have 
a low boiling-point, and consequently give off vapour at common 
temperatures by successive portions of the solar thermal spectrum, 
in order to see whether those bodies offer thermal lines of absorp- 
tion analogous to the metallic lines of the spectrum. 

The presence of metals in the solar atmosphere, and in the in- 
candescent mass of the sun itself, shows that, even when subjected 
to the enormous temperature which must prevail near the sun's sur- 
face, the molecular groups of the metals do not appear to separate 
into simpler ones. But this does not prove that at still higher 
temperatures, such as must have once prevailed in our system, those 
metals did not exist in simpler forms. Some idea may be formed 
of the enormous force which once existed in our system, if the 
whole of the solar system was once nebulous, and consequently of 
the temperature which it was possible might have existed, by the 
calculation of Professor Helmholtz, according to which the poten- 
tial energy of our system was 454 times greater than it is now, 
so that the J|-|- of it have been lost, as he thinks, by radiation 
into space as heat. Yet what remains of that primitive energy if 
all converted into heat would be sufficient to raise a mass of water 
equal in weight to the sun and planets, — twenty-eight millions of 
degrees centigrade, a temperature of which the mind cannot form 
the slightest conception. If our hypothesis of the absorption of 
energy in interior work in the formation of homologous series or 
condensed atoms be correct, the whole of this force would not have 
been radiated off ; but just as, when we heat a body, a part of the 
heat performs interior and exterior work, while the rest produces 
temperature and may radiate away, so, in the formation of metallic 
groups, part of the heat was used in interior work. This interior 
work may be unstable, as in the case of that by which solids are 
converted into liquids; or it may be permanent, as we have sup- 
posed to be the case in the homologous series of carbides of hydro- 
gen. Our view, then, is, that the simple bodies represent stable 
molecular groups which still conserve part of the initial energy of 
our system, which we have not now force enough to transfonn, 
as we can do in the case of the compounds of carbides of hydro- 
gen. The very lines of the spectrum which reveal to us the con- 
stitution of the sun also show us that the metals are complex 
groups of molecules ; for how could a simple molecule extinguish 
sixty different rays ? Nay, more : for as we improve our spectrum 
and increase its brilliancy, the number of lines which represent 
each metal increases. This has been well shown by the experiments 
of Professor Miller on the spectrum of Thallium at different tem- 
peratures. It is only very complex groups of molecules that could 

The Progress of Chemical Science. 475 

intercept so many waves of different velocities in making tlieir way 
between the ultimate particles as do the metals. 

Geology points to the successive stages by which in lapse of ages 
the earth assumed its present form ; astronomy points back to a 
period far more distant, when " the earth was without form," be- 
fore the molecular motion of nebulous atoms had been converted 
into the motion of whirling globes. Does chemistry now point 
back to a period still more remote in the womb of time, to the 
birth of simple bodies ? Shall we be ever able to determine their 
relative ages, and apply that knowledge to ascertain the relative 
age of the various stellar worlds, or of those green and red suns 
which apparently are formed of very few bodies ? Our readers 
will say that we have pushed the speculation far enough. Whether 
that speculation be of any worth or not, it will sufficiently indicate 
the part which chemistry will play in the development of a great 
dynamical theory of the miiverse. 

[ 476 ] 


There are some -writers at whom we wonder as thinking-ma- 
chines ; others whom we seek to know as persons through their 
works; and others, again, whom we like to read about, though 
we neglect their writings. We choose to make the acquaint- 
ance of Johnson through Boswell, rather than in Rasselas and 
the Rambler. We read Milton without much caring to know 
what manner of man he was. But we are for ever trying to put 
together every hint that Shakespeare gives us, in order that we 
may come to know something of himself. Yet Shakespeare was 
a poet the effect of whose creations does not depend on his own 
personal presence. His sublime thoughts are separated from his 
mind, and stand by themselves as solidly as trees or mountains. 
His humour derives none of its zest from any relation to his 
personal oddities. Yet such surpassing gifts, such loveable qua- 
lities, shine in his works, that we yearn to know him. 

In this same class, at however great a distance, we place 
Thackeray. A knowledge of the man is not necessary for under- 
standing his works. But his works disclose to us such a sym- 
pathetic nature, that we like to know him ; while he babbles to us 
so artlessly of himself, that we cannot help making his acquaint- 
ance. Hence it is that of all recent writers he excites the great- 
est personal sympathy. In Macaulay we see only the orator 
and the partisan. We admire his memory, his enthusiasm, his 
genius ; and we think little more about him. In Mr. Carlyle, 
one of the most thoroughly individual of our writers, who seeks 
to commune with a friend's heart ? We weigh his reasons, we 
admire his talent, we are carried away by his eloquence, we bow 
to his heroes or we contemn them, we are amused or bored 
with his sputtering ; but we forget the author in his works. In 
Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, egotistical as he is, frantic as are his 
efforts to make us believe that he tells us all that is in his soul, 
and much as he desires to establish himself as our director and 
instructor, we see only the man of imagination, whose thoughts 
are no parts of himself, in whom we cannot separate affectation 
from reality, fancies from facts. In Mr. Dickens we do not see 
a man who even pretends to offer us his heart to read, or who 
identifies his characters with himself, as Sir Edward Bulwer Lyt- 
ton does. We delight in his stories, but we care nothing for him, 
except as a productive national property. But in Thackeray we 
see a man who cannot help telling us of himself, and who disdains 
to give us a false picture ; who draws from his own image in a 
mirror ; who does not know how to separate himself from his own 

Thackeray. 4t(t 

creations, or to leave them to stand alone. He nourishes them 
with blood warm from his own veins, and makes their hearts keep 
time with his. His own character is ever the background of 
the pageant he displays to us. His puppets pass before us as if 
in their creator's day-dream, instead of on a solid stage — as if 
we saw their images within the magic-lantern, instead of on the 
whitened wall. 

This openness and transparency of soul is Thackeray's great 
characteristic. It accounts for many of his peculiarities as critic, 
historian, artist, and thinker. It explains the characters he 
creates, and the circumstances in which he exhibits them. It 
throws light on his special humour, and on his judgments and 
theories. It goes far to explain his intellectual tastes, his cri- 
tical preferences, and the artistic forms he adopted. It tells us 
the reason of many of his weaknesses. It is, in fact, the key- 
note both of the man and of his works. Let us see how this 

There is a point where Thackeray's ideas of criticism, his- 
tory, art, and philosophy unite and become identical. For their 
ultimate aim is but one — to discover and display the soul. In 
his view, criticism discovers the soul that lurks within books 
and pictures; history discovers the soul that actuated the men 
who lived in past ages ; art displays soul through the creations 
of the poetical imagination ; philosophy teaches how to display 
our own living soul in our words and deeds. His critical essays, 
his historical chapters, his novels, his exhortations and specula- 
tions, are at bottom one and the same thing. His critical essays 
are historical sketches of authors ; his historical essays are cri- 
tical summaries of memoirs and letters, illustrated from pictures, 
buildings, streets, old almanacks, and newspapers; his novels 
are fictitious memoirs ; and his philosophy is merely a series of 
examples and fables. Such are their similarities; let us now 
turn to their differences. 

His criticism tries to find the man in his works — to teach 
people to see the soul gleaming from the eyes of the portrait, 
the character and mind of the artist radiating from the forms 
he drew or the lines he penned. The critic, as Thackeray con- 
ceived him, must sympathise with the man he criticises, and 
must comprehend him. The first sign requisite to prove the 
critic's mission is his ability to imitate and parody what he cri- 
ticises. To judge, you must know; if you know, you can do, — 
for knowledge is power; it is as easy to create as to define. If 
you show that you can do what Rubens or Swift did, then you 
prove that you understand their secret, whether you can explain 
it or not. If you pretend to explain it, you may easily prove 
your sum by putting together again what you have taken to 

478 Thackeray, 

pieces so cleverly. This is implied in a criticism on Rubens in 
one of the Roundabout Papers, where Thackeray laughs at the 
brawny, burly creations of the " gross, shaggy, mangy, roaring" 
Leo Belgicus, and exposes the easy, almost puerile, contrivances 
by which he attained his big eflfects. But then he blows his 
criticism to the winds by the reflection that, if Rubens's art were 
so vulgar and so easy, some one before now would have been 
able to imitate it ; but it is inimitable — he has made his mark 
on all time ; '' we wonder at his strength and splendour of will. 
He is a mighty, conquering, generous, rampagious lion." 

If a complete technical criticism of Rubens ought to amount 
to a receipt for producing pictures as good as his, a complete 
literary criticism of the master would imply the power of pro- 
ducing by word-pictures the same feelings and ideas as are 
excited by his canvases. This was Thackeray's ideal of art- cri- 
ticism. Though he could well describe a picture in the technical 
language of artists, he preferred talking about it in a way cal- 
culated to raise the same emotions through the ear that the 
picture excited through the eye ; and his usual style of criticism 
was either this, or else a dry catalogue of those emotions. One 
picture, he says, raises ^' a certain pleasing, dreaming feeling of 
awe and musing;" another, *'the most delightful briskness and 
cheerfulness of spirit." Thus he tries to find under the paint 
the character of the artist, and the motives w^hich inspired him. 

In like manner, his criticism of books tries to find the man in 
his writings. In his Lectures on the Humourists he sits in judg- 
ment on the men and their lives, not on their works. And when 
he does criticise their writings, he does it rather by imitations 
and parodies than by analysis. In his Novels by Eminent Hands, 
in his imitations of the Spectator-paper in Esmond, and of 
Horace Walpole's style in The Virginians, in his matchless feats 
of taking-off French people, like the Prince de Moncontour and 
his mother, and Germans, like the Licentiate in Barry Lyndon, 
we see his ideal of criticism. He proves that he has seized the 
literary soul, by exhibiting his capacity to re'embody it, though 
perhaps his analytical powers were not active enough to enable 
him to explain to others wherein that literary individuality con- 
sisted. By some magic process, which he did not understand, his 
mind passed from the writing to the author ; and while he was 
reading Swift's judgments of others, he was unconsciously form- 
ing his own image of Swift's soul. 

His essays in history are precisely the same in plan, only, in- 
stead of artists and humourists, he calls up historical personages 
before us. He leaves the beaten tracks of history, disregards the 
intrigues of courts and the acts of statesmen, in order to find the 
man. Deeds, says Heine, are but the soul's vestments ; old an- 

lliackeray, 479 

nals are mankind's old wardrobe ; history but a classified cata- 
logue of old clothes. Thackeray would make it more ; he would 
wave his wand, summon the ghosts from Hades, and bid them 
case themselves in their old mantles, and strut for a moment be- 
fore us, to show what manner of men they were. He would have 
the INIuse of History put off all ceremony and forswear courts, 
make herself familiar rather than heroic, and strive, with Hogarth 
and Fielding, to give us an idea of the manners of the age, rather 
than register its deeds with the gazettes and newspapers. 

In his historical essays he is more liberal in his judgments on 
the spirits he raises than in his critical lectures. In these his 
judgment is guided by considerations exclusively moral : were the 
men he writes of tender-hearted ? did they love and honour wo- 
men and children? But as a historian he can make allowances 
for characters who did not fulfil these conditions, if they showed 
themselves men in the great struggles of the world. In spite of 
Sir Robert Walpole's loose life, he honours him for his bold and 
successful defence of liberty. He admires the iron narrowness of 
George III., in spite of the calamities it caused. The one per- 
sonage whom he cannot forgive is George IV., for the sufficient 
reason that he cannot find out whether he was a person at all, or 
merely a bundle of clothes. Strip ofi" his coat, wig, teeth, waist- 
coat, and successive under-waistcoats, he says, and you find 
nothing. He must have had an individuality, but one cannot 
get at any thing actual, and never will be able. In a word, he 
was a " Fribble,^^ a nobody. 

Thackeray avoided the consequence into which a similar feel- 
ing has pushed Mr. Carlyle, and never accepted the Hegelian con- 
clusion that success justifies the cause and authenticates the 
hero, that might proves right, and that what is is because it 
ought to be. He rightly distinguished between domestic and 
political morality, and forgave politicians, as such, their domestic 
vices only on condition of their serving political right. But his 
notions of political right are somewhat hazy, from a cause which 
we shall have to point out farther on. It was only by a strong 
effort that he could see such a right at all ; and then he could 
not distinguish it from social right. His usual mood was, with 
Fielding, to define patriots to be place-hunters, and politics to be 
the art of getting places ; to think parties an artificial contrivance 
to prolong the jobbery of a superannuated oligarchy; to consider 
one man as good as another, and having an equal right, not only 
to self-government, but to govern others. Order and prosperity 
he considered to depend not on the organisation of the state, 
but on the feelings and sentiments of the people ; and these he 
gi'ounded, not on the wise doing or wiser forbearing of statesmen, 
not on the influence of clergymen or demagogues or journalists, 

4eO Thackeray, 

but on that of some literary humourist, some week-day preacher, 
some Johnson — " the great supporter of the constitution, whose 
immense authority reconciled the nation to loyalty, and shamed 
it out of irreligion." Such a conception debarred him from the 
knowledge of the political scale of virtues. He could see that in 
private life defects of justice were often only feminine weaknesses, 
compensated by an excess of kindness or tenderness, while at- 
tempts to do rigid justice often had a stern cold character de- 
structive of the domestic charities. But he could not see so 
clearly that on the stage of the world the real proportion between 
these virtues becomes manifest ; that private weaknesses are am- 
plified into public crimes, as well as private crimes softened into 
defects on which men are not called to judge, by the mere ampli- 
tude of the stage where the man acts his part. In-doors, feminine 
weakness or narrowness may be inoffensive, or comic, or pathetic ; 
put it upon the throne, and it may work worse woe than the 
blackest crime. Shakespeare understood this when he showed 
how an amiable innocent like Henry VI., or a nature's gentleman 
like Richard II., might be the curse of his country, or when he 
exhibited the statesmanlike excellence of the heartless politician 
Henry IV. Thackeray had no clear view of it when he founded 
his apology for King George III. on the rigid virtues of the man. 
To pass to his artistic creations : there is absolutely no differ- 
ence in principle between his tales and his critical and historical 
lectures ; they are all galleries of portraits, though the characters 
he creates are painted at full length and in great detail, while 
those whom he recalls into life are merely sketched-in. His 
Muse of Fable disdains plots of intrigue as contemptuously as his 
Muse of History despises the intrigues of courts. It might be 
suspected that he never could make a plot, unless in Esmond he 
had proved his ability. But he never did it again ; all his other 
novels are slices out of the living body of the time, with the 
arteries tied up, and with other signs of good surgery at the be- 
ginning, but ending raggedly, and without any artistic reason, 
except that they had gone on long enough for the carver to have 
served all his company. A plot with him is generally a mere 
thread, unravelling into just so many adventures and episodes as 
are sufficient to develope the characters. And these characters he 
makes as life-like as possible ; many of them are as real as those 
he describes in his lectures, but with fictitious names. Almost 
any portrait can be remo^'ed from one division to another. 
Johnson, left out from the humourists, comes in among the 
statesmen in The Four Georges, and among the characters in 
The Virginians. The Marquis of Steyne is introduced in the 
lectures as a courtier of George IV. Thackeray's most serious 
attempt at historical portraiture —the picture of ^Marlborough — 

ThacJceraij. 481 

finds its place in Esmond, where we also find descriptions ot 
!MarlborougVs battles, which would probably have done duty in 
his contemplated history of Queen Anne^s reign. Bamj Lyndon 
contains criticisms of the system of Frederick the Great, which it 
is amusing to compare with the premature certificates of character 
given in Esmond to Mr. Carlyle's history. Perhaps the most 
innocent example of his rage for turning his novels into portrait- 
galleries occurs in The Virginians, where he " somehow^ manages 
to bring his hero in contact with the greatest lords and most noto- 
rious personages of the empire, and thus introduces his readers 
to the great characters of a remarkable time.'^ Sometimes this 
is done only as an exercise of his peculiar imitative criticism, like 
the new ana and talk which he mints with the effigies of Steele and 
Addison, Bolingbroke, Johnson, and Kichardson. Sometimes it 
is done with an intention almost Dantesque, as when he makes 
General Lambert point out to George Warrington at the levee 
the principal courtiers, and give each his due place in the hell, 
purgatory, or paradise of modern opinion. But nothing can be 
less Dantesque than the motives of his judgment. We have not 
here, as we have in The Four Georges, the faintest echo of that 
haughty patriotism by which the stern Florentine tries all men_, 
and distributes their doom according to the way they abide this 
test. In his novels Thackeray drops the political touchstone 
which he employed to some extent in his historical lectures, and 
adopts one altogether domestic and social, which we may call his 
snob-test — a test which, in his way of using it, is applicable to 
many other qualities besides those usually considered to make 
up the snob, and embraces in its domain almost all moral faults, 
arranged, however, on a new scale of gravity and veniality. 
With this touchstone in his hand he wanders through the gallery, 
and tickets the original of each portrait with his doom. Was 
he gentle and loving, but tipsy ? His love saves him ; he only 
passes through a brief purgatory into bliss. Was he a brutal 
Imsband? To Tartarus with him! Did he hate children? 
Pluto, shove him down farther ! It is too whimsical. He 
leaves on one side the springs of history, the motives and forces 
which we can weigh and appreciate, and busies himself with his 
little crooked inch-measure to mete out his due to each, and to 
anticipate a verdict upon men's morals which none but the All- 
seeing can give. Thus, in his endeavours to escape the narrow- 
ness of Dante, he lets his waters floAV over the plain and become 
a shallow pool. In his laudable endeavour to decant into the 
novel all the religion it will hold, he becomes over-serious in his 
fable and namby-pamby in his religion. He seems to consider 
our opinions of dead people to be their limbo ; just as he makes 
tlieir historical reality consist in the vividness of our ideas con- 
cerning them. 

482 Thackeray. 

But he had a passion for moralising, to which even his dar- 
ling exhibition of character was sometimes sacrificed. He often 
takes the mask from his face and holds it in his hand, forgets his 
assumed character and speaks in his own person, criticising his 
inventions and remarking on his performance as it proceeds. 
This peculiarity, which many persons have taken as a proof of 
want of objective power to project his characters outside his own 
mind, and to treat them as real entities, acting by the necessary 
sequences of natural laws, and not merely as puppets answering 
the strings which the showman chooses to pull, he would himself 
have appealed to as the great proof that they were for him liv- 
ing persons. To readers they have the life-like characteristics 
of being very commonly misunderstood, and of being understood 
by diflferent persons in different ways. To their creator, his 
own creations often presented the same problems as real per- 
sons might. He used to say, in reference to Rawdon Crawley^s 
quarrel with Lord Steyne, that he could never make up his 
mind whether Becky was guilty or no. He would point out 
the very house in E-ussell Square w^here the Sedleys lived. 
When remonstrated with for making Esmond marry his mother- 
in-law, he said, " I did not make them do it ; they did it them- 
selves." In one of his Roundabout Papers he tells of the amaze- 
ment he felt at the remarks made by some of his characters : 
'^ It seems as if an occult power was moving the pen. The per- 
sonage does or says something, and I ask how the dickens did 
he come to think of that ?" " I never know whether you are 
laughing at me or yourself, George," says one of the Virginian 
brothers ; " I never know whether you are serious or jesting." 
*' Precisely my own case, Harry my dear," replies the other. It 
was Thackeray's case. The real artist has an intuition of what 
his characters must do or say ; the theorist determines what he 
will make them say or do. One discovers ; the other invents. 
One comes, as it were, by luck on his treasures ; the other makes 
them, and can tell us all about them. 

And the reality which he attributes to his own inventions he 
gives to those of other novelists. The creations of Fielding he 
considers to be much more facts, to have much more have-been- 
hood about them, than the forgotten celebrities mentioned in 
the gazettes of the day. Tom Jones and Amelia are to him 
much more real persons than those who are named in Smol- 
lett's chapter on arts and letters in the reign of George II. 
Parson Adams and Primrose were as authentic in his eyes as 
Sachevcrell and Warburton, and Gil Bias more real and more 
moral than the Duke of Lerma. Like the characters they cre- 
ate, the histories of novelists are the only ones that cannot be 
controverted. Never was such a Cartesian ! Never was such im- 


Thackeray. 483 

plicit reliance giveu to the principle^ " que les choses que nous 
concevons fort clairement et fort distinctement sont toutes 

And this, indeed, is the whole of his moral philosophy : — The 
soul that dares to exhibit itself in full clearness and distinctness 
is a true soul. It is as certain to be loved as seen, when it 
shines forth in naked simplicity, nor leaves a thought within. 
The mouth should be no vizor to the heart ; what the breast 
forges the tongue should vent. If men would but let their souls 
be seen as God Almighty made them, " stripped of their wicked 
deceiving bodies, stark naked as they were before they were 
born," then all would be well. His philosophy carries us back 
beyond Rousseau's state of nature, beyond the nude animalism 
of the Preadamites, almost into the ideal times when first matter 
had not yet put on a rag of form. Souls without bodies, bodies 
without clothes, society without social organisation, — such are 
his ideals. He is a stark Origenist; if he had lived in the third 
century he would have believed the father of lies to be the crea- 
tor of all things visible. For, he tells us, it is falsehood that 
begets concealment, while concealment begets humbug, disguise, 
formalism, and ceremony, whence the conventional framework 
of society draws its origin. 

This theory has taken shape in his snob-philosophy, on 
which he brooded from his undergraduate days in 1829, till he 
gave it shape in the Snob Papers in Punch. The Snob Papers 
began with just descriptions of the snob — eating peas with a 
knife, not conforming to the innocent social code, admiring 
mean things meanly ; but soon the idea was extended and in- 
flated, till snobbishness became an all-pervading gas, a universal 
element in man's composition, a common fibre which runs 
through us all, and which vibrates in us whenever we are con- 
ceited or quackish, or pompous or uncharitable, or proud or 
narrow — lowly to dukes or supercilious to shopkeepers. Still 
further, it was found to be a quality inseparable from the me- 
chanism of society, and incarnate in the diabolical invention of 
gentility, which kills honest friendship ; in the organisation of 
ranks and degrees of precedence, which rumples equality ; in 
court-circulars; in haut ton; in the wicked words, "fashionable, 
exclusive, aristocratic ;" in a court-system " that sends men of 
genius to the second table ;" in gradations and ranks that en- 
courage men to despise their neighbours, and, on their promo- 
tion, to forget an old friend, — to be ashamed of their poverty or 
their relations or their calling, — to boast of their pedigree, or to 
be proud of their wealth. 

We must excuse Thackeray for setting up a hierarchy of 
genius instead of one of wealth and birth, for abolishing the 

VOL. IV. k k 

484 Tliackeray, 

Red Book to make way for a St. Simonian- Directory of Capa- 
cities, because it is a mere oversight into which he was betrayed 
by his facile receptivity of his companions' opinions. He never 
meant to depose Croesus from the throne in order to crown 
Shandon or Pendennis or Ridley, or to substitute Mrs. Leo 
Hunter's matinees for Mrs. Tufthunt's drums. He considered 
that all differences of rank, however determined, were snobbish, 
because the distinguishing quality, whether wealth or birth or ge- 
nius, would always be matter for conceit and pretension. Equal- 
ity, he saw, was the only remedy; and if equality was contrary to 
nature, then nature, he thought, was predestined to be snobbish. 

Thus the ideal snob became the devil of the week-day 
preacher — something very mean, but at the same time very 
great and ubiquitous. It was an inward tempter ; because the 
constitution of man is such that the soul can only exhibit itself 
in its clothing of outward acts, which acts are only imperfectly 
significant of the inner truth which they symbolise, and there- 
fore naturally deceptive and hypocritical. It was also an out- 
ward tempter ; because the constitution of society is such as to 
afford every facility for pretence, and to set a high premium on 
hypocrisy and affectation. The fundamental temptation of man 
was to humbug himself and his fellows, and to become a snob. 
This way of treating the subject is quite in accordance with 
Thackeray's peculiar humour. He sets up vulgarity and snob- 
bishness as coexistent with the visible universe, and then pro- 
ceeds to protest against it. He finds, as it were, the solar system 
to be an ill-designed machine, which he could greatly improve ; 
and, with Hamlet, he sees in the majestic firmament but a pes- 
tilent congregation of vapours, and in man only the quintessence 
of dust. 

This snob-philosophy, in putting the chief stress on trans- 
parency and simplicity of soul, lays itself open to three capital 

First, it excludes justice from its code. For, when it reduces 
all crime to selfish hypocrisy, it has no serious condemnation for 
the rogue that is not a snob. It pleads for kindness, affection, 
self-sacrifice, humility, and all the more feminine virtues, but not 
for justice. Justice is too much occupied in adjusting the con- 
ventional framework of society, orders, degrees, ranks, all of 
which have the original taint of snobbishness deeply ingrained 
in them. It does not belong to that emotional energy which 
we call the soul. It resides in the reason, and may be expressed 
in an arithmetical sum. Not so the real virtues. Again, in- 
justice may come from a simple defect of soul, incapable of cal- 
culating proportion. It may come also from an excess of love. 
All women are more or less unjust; the most feminine the most 

Thackeray, 485 

unjust. Remember Rachel Esmond and the Little Sister. Behold 
Henry Esmond, that accomplished hero, turning traitor in favour 
of a cause he despises, merely because he thinks it will please his 
mistress. Think of the leniency with which the knavery of 
affectionate rascals like Lord Castlewood or Rawdon Crawley is 
treated, or of the good-humoured dissection of such innate rogues 
as Barry Lyndon or Bob Stubbs, the hero of The Fatal Boots. If 
a man has a bend sinister in his soul, he must be a rogue if he is 
not a hypocrite; and his roguery ought to be indulgently excused, 
like the depredations of a fox, or the cruelty of a cat, as something 
natural, innate, predestined. Such seems to be the theory, as it 
certainly is the practice, of Thackeray's snob-philosophy. This 
made his notions of political right so hazy. For justice is the 
political virtue, the social guide, the final solver of all the diffi- 
cult casuistiy of the more ethical virtues. No one can be a poli- 
tician unless he can at least understand the supremacy of justice 
over affection. 

Secondly, it vilifies the reason. It does this partly because 
it exaggerates the value of the emotions ; partly because it does 
not see the exact place to give to reason. Reason, Hke justice, 
seems something outside the souls, an external rind of but tem- 
porary utility, a protection to the soul, and a medium of its 
communication with other souls. But its abuse is only too easy; 
its function being to weave the garment of words and acts by 
which a soul manifests itself to its fellows, it is the instrument 
of aU the untruth, all the pretence, the hypocrisy, the meanness, 
the snobbishness in the world. " L'homme qui raisonne est un 
animal deprave," says Rousseau in perfect seriousness ; and 
Thackeray half agrees with him. The transparency of character 
he seeks is usually clearest when reason is weakest. When reason 
sets to work, its first effort is to raise a fog round the soul, to 
make opaque what before was clear, and to weave a garment 
round the nakedness of which it has learned to be ashamed. 
Reason is the great enemy of simplicity ; the two must be kept 
apart, or they will corrupt each other. He divorces morality and 
genius, like certain historians, such as Thiers and Ranke, for con- 
trary reasons. Their highest place is given to cleverness ; and 
they love to show how great genius without goodness may be. 
Their chief heroes are men without moral virtue, such as Riche- 
lieu, Frederick, or Napoleon ; while their good men are either 
commonplace or dupes. On the other hand, Thackeray's heroes 
are dupes, and his men of genius more or less villains. General 
Wolfe is almost the only great man whom he treats with entire 
sympathy; but, while magnifying his goodness, he detracts from 
lis greatness, by attributing his crowning success at Quebec to 
pure chance. 

486 Thackeray. 

Thirdly, it discourages all attempts at moral progress. Its 
aim is to exhibit the soul as it is, not as it is not. The desire of 
being better than you are tempts you to seem better than you 
are. The A^ery acts and habits by which you strive to improve 
announce your improvement to the world before it has become 
ingrained in your soul; the man, therefore, who seeks to improve 
himself must be in some measure a sham and a humbug. But, 
more than this, real improvement is impossible. A man may throw 
off his evil habits, and become once more nearly as good as he 
was before he began to reason ; but he cannot improve on this. 
As nature made a soul, so it must remain. Self-improvement is 
impossible. You read in saints' lives how one cured his bad 
temper, and another strove till his chief defect became his prin- 
cipal virtue. Moonshine ! Thackeray can believe that a man 
can learn a language or master a science, but not that by taking 
thought he can add to his moral stature. All is vanity, look you; 
and so the preacher is vanity, too.^ You may as well show your- 
self as nature made you, because you cannot be different. Are you 
a thief, the son of thieves? You cannot choose but thieve. We will 
pity you, and make your prison comfortable. We are all of us poor 
asses, driven by fate from the abyss behind us to the abyss before 
us; it is a toss-up whether we are ridden by the devil, or by our 
good angel, or by the ghostly snob. If we are good, let us keep 
so. If we have made ourselves bad, let us undo our handiwork. 
If we have a defective nature, God help us ; let us at least be 
dogs, or pigs, or foxes, if we cannot be men. Whatever we are, 
let it be our study to be, not to seem. 

Another consequence of this philosophy, the highest aim of 
which is to discover the soul under its clothing, and to exhibit 
it as it is, is a certain womanishness in those whom it actuates. 
Shakespeare says that transparency of character is that which 
mainly distinguishes women from men : 

'* Their smoothness, like a goodly champaign plain, 

Lays open all the little worms that creep : 

In men, as in a rough -grown grove, remain 

Cave-keeping evils, that obscurely sleep. 

Through crystal walls each little note will peep. 

Though men can cover crimes with bold, stern looks, 
Poor women's faces are their own faults' books." 

It is congruous that one whose feelings cause him to found 
his philosophy on simplicity and openness should understand the 
character of women better than that of men. And all Thackeray's 
most subtle portraits are those of women. He goes to the bottom 
of their characters, especially of those who move in the great 
world. Beatrix, Rachel Esmond, Becky Sharpe, and Ethel New- 

' Philiy, i. 29G. 

Thackeray, 487 

come are pictures "which will ever remain fresh. And, seeing 
that simplicity is a feminine .characteristic, this philosophy re- 
quires that we should judge more harshly of women who hide 
themselves in a mist of pretension, or involve themselves in the 
labyrinths of intellectual mazes, than of men who do so. " Lilies 
that fester smell far worse than weeds.^' A woman who is 
affected and untrue to herself is a more degraded being than a 
hypocritical man, because she sins more deeply against her 
nature. This accounts for the apparent spite which Thackeray 
always exhibited towards clever women. It was not that he 
really hated cleverness and loved stupidity. On the contrary, 
dulness was his abhorrence. " There is a quality,^' he said, " im- 
pervious to all advice, exposure, or correction ; that bows to no 
authority, recognises no betters, never can see that it is in the 
wrong, has no scruples of conscience, no misgivings of its own 
rectitude or powers, no qualms for the feelings of others, no 
respect but for itself The great characteristic of dulness is to 
be inalterably contented with itself; it makes men and women 
selfish, stingy, ignorant, passionate, and brutal.^' "Above all 
things,^^ he says elsewhere, " try to get a cheerful wife ; cheer- 
fulness implies a contented spirit, a pure heart, a kind and loving 
disposition, humility, and charity; a generous appreciation of 
others, and a modest opinion of self. Stupid people — people who 
do not know how to laugh — are always pompous and self-con- 
ceited; that is, bigoted; that is, cruel; that is, ungentle, un- 
charitable, unchristian.^^' It is m"uch more likely, then, that 
his weak, affectionate creatures, his tender, generous incapables, 
such as Amelia Sedley and Helen Pendennis, were mistakes in 
art than mistakes in philosophy. The intellect of woman is not 
like that of man : it does not spend itself in brandishing syl- 
logisms, or in wire-drawing ideas. It is not distinguished for 
epigrammatic acuteness or proverbial sententiousness. It is 
rather an intuition of feeling, and expresses itself more in sym- 
pathy that may be felt, than in words which may be written 
down. Now it is a great problem of art how to represent this 
character. As the sculptor has to represent warm, quivering 
flesh in his cold, still marble ; the painter the brilliant sunshine 
with colours, the brightest of which is blacker than all blackness 
when contrasted with the sun's glory ; the musician the wails, 
the jubilees, the tender sighs that course through his imagina- 
tion with his octave of notes ; — so the poet has to represent the 
wordless cheerfulness and unspoken wit of women with the mate- 
rials of his art, which are words. How shall he do this ? One 
poet adopts one mode of adaptation; another, another; the same 
poet varies his method in different periods of his life. We have 

- Miscell. ii. 274, iv. 87. 

488 Thackeray. 

seen that Shakespeare recognised transparency of soul as a fun- 
damental trait of women ; yet how differently did he represent 
them in the different periods of his art ! At first this transparency 
showed itself in an inexhaustible flow of the brightest wit, not 
seldom somewhat too highly seasoned, as in Beatrice, Rosalind, 
and even Juliet. Gradually he worked away from this mode of 
representation, and adopted the method which has given ns his 
Desdemona, Miranda, and Imogen. Yet, after all, the literary 
ideal of woman does not quite correspond to the living ideal ;. 
all that we can ask is, that it should approach as near as 
the materials will allow. The true womanly charm is as inde- 
scribable as a sweet odour. " Qui pingit florem non pingit floris 
odorem." The best flower-painter is he who can associate most 
of the sentiment of perfume with the best imitatious of forms 
and colours. 

Thackeray began with a mistake in criticism; he thought 
that a set had always been made against clever women. " Take 
aU Shakespeare^s heroines — they all seem to me pretty much 
the same, — affectionate, motherly, tender, that sort of thing.^^ 
He looked at Shakespeare's last creations without examining 
how he came to form them. Hence he failed to see that their 
equableness and placidity came from fulness, not from emptiness, 
and that they had passed through and beyond the stage of clever- 
ness and wit. It is as if a young musician, captivated by the 
admirable lucidity, the profound harmony, and the planet-like 
rhythm of Beethoven's latest music, should begin with direct 
imitations of his ninth symphony, or grand mass in D, or post- 
humous quartetts, instead of gradually working up to this per- 
fection through the simpler methods on which it is built. He 
began by trying to give a direct truthful imitation of the womanly 
charm, in Amelia Sedley and Helen Pendennis, and was re- 
luctantly obliged to abandon, or greatly modify, the method, 
which had only resulted in negative characters, feeble and brain- 
less. He afterwards infused more wit into them, and succeeded 
better. His progress was in the contrary direction to that of 
Shakespeare. One developed from Amelia to Ethel and the 
Little Sister ; the other, from Beatrice to Imogen. But who wiU 
say that the last of the one is equal to the first of the other ? 
Thackeray's great successes in female portraits are those where 
no theory withheld him from developing their intellects. Becky 
and Beatrix are his greatest creations. His good women are 
more or less marred by his attempting to give a direct descrip- 
tion of an indescribable charm. And the element of contrivance 
which he leaves to them, — that artless, negative, evasive cunning 
which is natural to women and children, and to the weak in 
presence of the strong, — can never, in novels, compensate for 

Thackeray, 489 

the loss of the positive aggressive artfulness of the woman who 
is determined to succeed. 

Thus we have his criticism, history, art, and philosophy (if we 
may venture to attribute philosophy to a man who so energeti- 
cally repudiated the impeachment) all converging to one point, 
all aiming at one effect — to bring the heart into the mouth, the 
woman into the eyes, laughter to the lips, and the whole soul 
and intellect into the countenance ; to reanimate old portraits ; 
to make description and dialogue a vehicle for the exhibition of 
the soul ; to encourage all transparency, purity, brightness, sim- 
plicity, womanliness, even childlikeness of character ; to strip off 
the mask that intellect weaves round the soul ; to substitute love 
for law, kindness for strict justice ; and to discourage the empty 
pretences of improvement or of fancied dignity, which tempt a 
man to seem what he is not. 

Thackeray was not a preacher to say one thing and do another. 
No author, except St. Augustine, ever made a truer or more com- 
plete confession of himself to his readers. He was thoroughly 
honest. '^ If my tap is not genuine, it is naught,^' he said. He 
was so very egotistical that his modesty compelled him to write 
under fictitious names. The anonymousness of " the author of 
Waverley," or of Boz, was more or less a whim. The pseudonyms 
of Thackeray were as necessary to' him as the veil was to Socrates 
when he was discoursing to Phsedrus. He felt that he could 
preach ; but how should he get into the pulpit in his own name, 
and tell his audience that they were all snobs ? A great deal of 
management was requisite. He had to speak to them, like 
-^sop, in fables ; like Edgar, in Lear^ he chose to minister to 
madness in the garb of folly; the cap and bells were to intro- 
duce him to court, and to license his tongue. He narrated of 
himself what he meant for his audience. He came before them 
as a flunkey, as a Jew, as a snob, as a bragging Irishman, to 
insinuate to them that they were so many flunkeys, Jews, snobs, 
and braggarts. It was only after he had secured attention in his 
disguises of Yellow-plush, Ikey Solomons, Titmarsh, Snob, Fitz- 
boodle, Brown, Stubbs, Gahagan, and the rest, that he ventured 
to appear under his own name in Vanity Fair ; and in the seri- 
ous works that followed, his modesty still compelled him to dis- 
guise himself in strange names. Pendennis, indeed, came out 
in his own name ; but after that he made the same use of the 
hero of the tale as Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton has made of Cax- 
ton. Pendennis became his editor in the press, and his vicar in 
the pulpit. Esmond was an autobiography. Lovel the Widower 
is narrated by a Mr. Bachelor. We have, then, two varieties of 
masks behind which Thackeray preached. One is the assumed 
mask of the Shakespearian fool, by which truth is established by 

490 Thackeray. 

its contrary, as the drunken helot preached sobriety ; the other 
is the scarcely- disguised personality of Thackeray himself. The 
two varieties have their points of contact iu Mr. Bachelor and 

The masks of the first kind are made somewhat after the 
pattern of Shakespeare's witches, or fairies, or Calibans — by ab- 
straction. They are imperfect men — human eidola, with some 
quality essential to the perfection of humanity obliterated from 
their souls. Not that Thackeray copied them from Shakespeare, 
or has made them at all like Shakespeare^s negative creations. 
The way they grew up in his mind is easily traced. The public 
in the fourth decade of this .century was enchanted with pictures 
of an impossible world, in which rogues worked villany with the 
motives and sentiments of heroes, lied out of love of truth, acted 
like profligates out of love of virtue, and like knaves out of hon- 
our; where doubt was philosophy, selfishness justice, anarchy 
government, and atheism religion. The diseased sentimental- 
ity of Ernest Maltravers, Jack Sheppard, and Oliver Twist , set 
Thackeray thinking how he could exhibit heroes similar to the 
two former, acting not indeed with the approval, but without 
the disapproval, of their consciences ; and he soon found a way 
of doing it, by cutting out the conscience altogether. As the 
French vivisectors extract a brute's cerebellum, or cut out his 
liver, and then watch how he behaves in his new condition, so did 
Thackeray, by a powerful effort of imagination, represent to him- 
self w/zpr in cipled men — men perfect in all their other faculties, but 
without the guiding clue of conscience, without the understand- 
ing to see that they lacked what other men possessed, and there- 
fore without any shame for their defect or their unprincipled acts. 
Swift had taught him one great secret of humorous writing — *' the 
grave and logical conduct of an absurd proposition.'^ " Given 
a country of people six inches or sixt}' feet high, and by the mere 
process of the logic a thousand wonderful absurdities are evolved 
at so many stages of the calculation/' Thackeray's masks are 
similar to Swift's in principle ; but they differ from them in the 
negative character of his assumptions. Given a man without 
the conception of right and wrong, how will he act and talk? 
The kind of solution Thackeray gave may be seen by a short 
extract from The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan : 
*' I had been lucky enough to render the Nawaub of Lucknow 
some trifling service, and his highness sent down a gold toothpick- 
case directed to Captain G. Gahagan, which I of course thought 
was for me. My brother madly claimed it: we fought; and the 
consequence was, that in about three minutes he received a slash 
in the right side which effectually did his business. He was a 
good swordsman enough; I was the best in the universe. The 

Thackeray, 491 

most ridiculous part of the affair is^ that the toothpick- case was 
liis, after all. He had left it on the NawauVs table at tiffin. I 
ean't conceive what madness prompted him to fight about such 
a paltry bauble : he had much better have yielded it at once, 
when he saw I was determined to have it.^' 

When Thackeray had once found out the secret of making 
the qualities he recommended conspicuous by their absence, and 
thus rendering them desiderata, he made good use of the method. 
The Fatal Boots is an example of it ; but it culminates in Barry 
Lyndon — a story where the grave irony is so artfully concealed, 
that it unites the interest of a romance with the pungency of the 
most humorous satire. Barry is more of a real personage than 
Gahagan or Bob Stubbs : the windbag which serves him for a 
heart is not utterly empty. He has an organ for some natural 
affection for his son, like Aaron in Titus Andronicus, But unlike 
Aaron, or lago, or Don John, or Barabas in The Jew of Malta, 
he has no love for wickedness in itself — no positive faculty for 
evil, which gloats over sin and hates virtue. He has a sublime 
unconsciousness, which accompanies him through the mazes of 
virtue and vice, making him take each as it comes, without being 
aware of any distinction between them. It is a rich vein ; and 
Thackeray delighted in his power of showing how characters 
wanting this or that human faculty would look. The slight 
fibre of satire that runs through Esmond is caused by the bland 
callosity with which the hero tells of deeds that exhibit his sub- 
mission to female influence, his defective views of honour, or the 
partiality of his judgments. Nothing can exceed the cool con- 
fession tacked on to his powerfully-conceived character of Marl- 
borough : '' A word of kindness might have changed my opinion 
of the great man, and instead of a satire have drawn out a pane- 
gyric." Thackeray's Hibernian portraits are painted on this 
principle. Their brag becomes an impotence, an inability to con- 
ceive that they can be known as well as they know. It comes not 
from imperfect education, but from want of a faculty; it is like 
a blind man's denial of colours. In Mr. Batchelor, the narrator 
of Lovel the Widower, there is a certain amount of vacuum; not 
enough to make him a rascal, scarcely enough to constitute a 
snob. He might be taken for something between Pendennis and 
Titmarsh, till we find that he hates children, and discover what 
he was meant for — a negative character, the same in principle as 
Barry Lyndon, but made fit for comedy by the slightness of his 
defaults. Elizabeth Prior is another such defective character. 
We have a clue to what she was intended for when we are told 
that " she was incorrigibly dull, and without a scintillation of 
humour." She is something less, not more, than woman. 

This kind of character serves as a foil to those in which 

4&2 Thackeray. 

Thackeray speaks as lie really thinks; just as the fools and 
clowns iu Shakespeare^s plays give us the ironic and satirical 
counterpart of the serious business. But Shakespeare^s foils are 
infinitely varied ; all kinds of contrasts are employed ; whereas 
Thackeray seems to know only of one. He sets only the nega- 
tive over against the positive, opposes only the empty to the 
full, and so gives us but one phase of that great artistic contri- 
vance by which Shakespeare attained such magnificent results. 
Over against these ironical masks, in which he preaches by con- 
traries, by the reductio ad ahsurdum^ — as where he makes Mr. 
Snob cut his benefactor because he ate peas with his knife, — 
are the characters through which he speaks as he really thinks. 
These may be divided into two classes : those which represent 
himself as he really was, and those which are portraits of himseK 
as he wished to be — literal portraits and ideal portraits. Pen- 
dennis is an example of the former kind ; Colonel Newcome, of 
the latter. He has given us three principal autobiographical por- 
traits, painted at difierent times, and representing three phases 
of his mind. Pendennis we may call his phrenological portrait. 
It was painted at a period when Dr. Newman's writings, and still 
more his deeds, had great influence upon him ; and when his 
historical studies, reacting upon a temporary metaphysical turn 
of mind, had reduced him to a stage of great intellectual uncer- 
tainty, not to say scepticism. In Clive Newcome we have the 
reaction of youth and health, of the love of energy, of art, of 
beauty, against the pale cast of thought which sicklies over the 
portrait of Pendennis. And in Philip we have the final triumph 
of muscularity, the victory of the sentiments reinforced by the 
flesh over the intellect. It is a sad sight. First we see the 
gentle nature going to buffets with itself, its insurgent forces led 
on by captains wearing the rival colours of Macaulay, Dr. New- 
man, Professor Newman, and a host more. Chaos sits as umpire, 
and by his decision embroils the fray. In Clive Newcomers 
letter from Rome we see the battle-field, strewn with dead 
corpses of the conquered, on whom a handsome funeral oration 
is pronounced before they are consigned to oblivion, and room is 
left for the empty heart to offer hospitality to their successors. 
In Philip we see that Mr. Kingsley has got the vacant throne, 
though his tenure of the conscience of the Cornhill preacher is 
somewhat threatened by Mr. Lewes's materialism, Mr. Home's 
spiritualism, and the kindly epicureanism of old Horace, to whom 
Thackeray took more and more in his last years, when he began 
to relent from his cruel surgery, abandoned the probe and the 
knife, and became a lady's doctor, a minister of bread-pills and 
bank-drafts to cases of distress; when he began to protest 
against discovery, to reckon it the chief misfortune of a man to 


Thackeray, 493 

be found out, or to be esteemed precisely at his worth, to hate 
\dce mainly because it made the conscience so uncomfortable, 
and to suspect all virtues that had unpleasant consequences. By 
the example of the Little Sister he tries to make lying and rob- 
bery in a good cause seem acts of virtue, just as Victor Hugo 
does with his Sceur Simplice. His code was tolerant of a little 
wrong done to secure a great right. But it never tolerated as- 
cetic self-sacrifice. His hatred to Swift comes mainly from the 
fact that Swift's married life with Stella was that of brother and 
sister. He greets the phenomenon with a howl of execration. 
His ideal of love was always somewhat physiological, and never 
reached the chivalrous notion of perfect unselfishness. The most 
extravagant sacrifice made for it was in his eyes only one side of 
a bargain. Love was a price paid, not a free gift imparted. Our 
own good, not that of the beloved person, was always supposed 
to be its real object ; and a man was conceived to sit down and 
calculate his possible gains before making his venture. " 'Tis I 
that have fixed the value of the thing I would have, and know 
the price I would pay for it. It may be worthless to you, but 
'tis all my life to me.''^ He had got aground on the rock of 
self; and so he missed the tide that promised to carry him over 
the bar of doubt. Whether Denis Duval was to be a fourth 
portrait of the writer in a more advanced stage of growth, we 
cannot tell. The fragment published displays extraordinary 
care, and characters, like those of Agnes's parents, which must 
be quite subsidiary to the main business of the plot, are finished 
miniatures. In Clarisse's catastrophe we see a version of a 
tragical incident which occurred a few years ago in the English 
literary world at Paris, interpreted according to the medico- 
psychological doctrines of Mr. Lewes. Denis himself was to be 
a great muscular sailor, approaching still nearer to Mr. Kings- 
ley's ideal than Philip ; and Agnes vvas to be his guardian angel, 
just as Laura was to Pendennis. " I might have remained," he 
says, " but for her, in my humble native lot, to be neither honest 
nor happy, but that my good angel yonder succoured me. All I 
have I owe to her ; but I pay with all I have, and what creature 
can do more ?" Thackeray in his last work still adheres to his 
old heresies concerning love. He exaggerates its part in life; 
and he debases its nature by reducing it to a bargain. 

The other chai-acters in his novels were modelled after the two 
kinds of masks behind which he preached. His good characters 
were excerpts from himself, with certain imperfections suppressed, 
and certain germs of good developed to an ideal excellence. His 
questionable characters were formed upon the model of his ne- 
gative masks. His art reversed the old maxim, that "people 

^ Esmond, iii. 57. 

494 Thackeray. 

oftener want something taken away than something added, to 
make them agreeable/' His black sheep are made so, not by 
the addition of any bad qualities, but by the subtraction of good 
ones. We look in vain among them for a strong character — for 
iron prejudices, or an adamantine will. There is no unconquer- 
able pride, no Satanic love of wickedness, as in lago or Aaron. 
There is much good-hcartedness, much desire to do better, all 
stopped by an impassable gulf, a vacuum, a nothing. The 
barriers which shut them out from goodness are ditches, not 
walls ; not alps, or boiling lava-streams, but morasses. They arc 
helpless evil-doers, not heroically wicked. Of such great charac- 
ters Thackeray had glimpses ; and he cowei^ed before them. He 
suspected Marlborough and Swift to be of their number. But 
his own villains are well called black sheep. Sheep they are; and 
one pities their tremulous helplessness more than one condemns 
their black bodies. This rule does not apply to his women ; his 
ideal of women was already so negative, he so bowed to Pope's 
decision that they have no characters at all, that to make them 
wicked he was obliged to add. Subtraction would have left 
nothing at all, good or evil. Feminine softness and simplicity 
could be changed to their opposites only by the addition of firm- 
ness of will and activity of intellect. On this principle he con- 
trasted Becky and Amelia in Vanity Fair. Afterwards, he never 
created such unmixed characters, but generally strove to give 
his good women some share of firmness and intellectual strength. 
There is a great deal of hard metal in Rachel Esmond, — of un- 
relenting pride, of silent vindictiveness, of unsleeping jealousy, 
of determination to command. So there is in Madame War- 
rington. Helen Pendennis is nearly as soft as Amelia; but 
Laura's heart is begirt by many excellent gifts of head ; while in 
Ethel Newcome intellect, haughtiness, high spirits, resumed their 
proper position in the literary ideal of womanhood. Perhaps 
Thackeray's women might be ranged in two columns, one headed 
by Becky, the other by Amelia. In Becky's column the intel- 
lect and will is the central organ ; in Amelia's, the heart. The 
two types gradually run together by borrowing of each other, 
till at last, in spite of Thackeray's predilections, taste conquers 
theory, and head with additions borrowed from heart proves 
itself more truly feminine than heart with additions borrowed 
from head. In Becky, Blanche, Beatrix, Ethel, we see a parallel 
to Amelia, Helen, Rachel, and Laura; and in Ethel, the lineal 
descendant of Becky, we recognise a much truer woman than 
in Laura, the lineal descendant of the ultra-feminine Amelia. 
Only contrast the two in the critical incidents of their lives — 
Ethel refusing to marry Farintosh, and Laura urging Pen to 
marry Blanche. The moral we draw is, that when affections are 

Tliacheray. 495 

superadded to intellect the intellect knows well what to do with 
them ; but when intellect is superadded to heart the heart does 
not understand how to handle the edged tool, and makes a sad 
mess with it. 

We will hazard another remark upon the charming portrait 
of Beatrix Esmond, upon which Thackeray has lavished all his 
art, and all his subtle knowledge of the women of the great 
world. It will be granted that, when a poet is discovering what 
his characters must say, he wdll let them say it in their own 
words; whereas, when he is inventing what they shall do in 
order to conform to his theory, the easiest plan is to describe 
them. The dramatic method is proper for objective, self-de- 
veloping art; the descriptive method for subjective theoretic 
art. Now it seems to us that, if we divide the passages which 
relate to Beatrix in Esmond into those which deal with her 
dramatically and those where gossip babbles about her, we 
shall find two Beatrixes ; one the delightful vision which laughs 
and dances through the story, the other an attendant wTaith, a 
malignant double which haunts her, but is not herself, to whom 
we must attribute much that we can scarcely believe of the real 
Beatrix. Of course, any woman can sink to any depth of degra- 
dation ; that is a fact not to be questioned. The question here 
is, whether the fall of Beatrix is artistically consistent, whether 
it is the legitimate result of the germs of self-will, giddiness, 
jealousy, obstinacy, selfishness, and love of admiration, w^hich are 
innate in her disposition, or whether it is a foreign addition 
plastered on her to justify Thackeray^s theoretical spite against 
women of intellect ? Was this theory so strong in him as to 
force him to calumniate the finest creation of his genius ? His 
anxiety to justify himself shows that he had misgivings about it. 
He tells us that pride will have a fall ; and yet he owns that 
Beatrix was not so proud as her mother. And then she only 
followed the example of the women of the Castlewood family. 
Again, the apologetical confession put into her mouth when 
dying, in The Virginians, is not only somewhat at variance with 
what is told us at the end of Esmond, but bears all the marks of 
an after-thought interposed to render probable something that 
was felt to sin against artistic credibility. It is hardly natural, 
moreover, to make the brilliant and experienced woman of the 
world the dupe of the dissipated young Prince. And as Bea- 
trix's worst vices are plastered on by historical addition, so are 
the intellectual qualities of Rachel. She comes out dramatically 
as a woman of more solid judgment, of greater stability and 
depth, than her daughter. But when we are told that 'Trix 
was not so incomparably witty as her mother, we can only reply 
that she shows herself incomparably more so. The poet was 

406 Thackeray. 

still groping in the dark for the just mixture of head and heart 
proper for ideal womanhood. 

We see, then, how the characters in Thackeray^s novels are 
confessions and exhibitions of his own inner world of thought and 
feeling — of his soul, his ideals, his loves and his hatreds, his con- 
victions and his doubts. And the circumstances with which he 
surrounds his characters are only memorials of his varied expe- 
riences. He gives us pictures of his school-life at the Charter 
House, or, as he calls it, the " Slaughter House,'^ or " Grey 
Friars" School, where he educates Pen and Clive and Philip, his 
three representatives. We have reminiscences of his countrj^ and 
college life in Pendennis, of his German experiences in Barry 
Lyndon and The Newcomes, of his Parisian experiences in Philip, 
of his connection with the literary world of Fraser's Magazine in 
Pendennis, and with the artists in The Newcomes, In all these he 
attempted to make his pictures literally true to nature. When 
accused of traducing his art by his pictures of the loose lives of 
men of letters, he replied, " My attempt was to tell the truth, 
and I meant to tell it not unkindly. I have seen the bookseller 
whom Bludyer robbed of his books ; I have carried money from 
a noble brother man of letters to some one not unlike Shandon 
in prison, and have watched the beautiful devotion of his wife 
in that dreary place." All three representatives of himself. Pen, 
Clive, and PhUip, begin life in affluence, lose their money, and 
for a while are forced to support themselves precariously on lite- 
rature or their art. Philip even begins the world with the pre- 
cise sum which is said to have been Thackeray's fortune, 30,000/. 
But there is one event in his life, the blow which deprived him 
of his wife's society, which had a much more important effect on 
his writings. It was his great sorrow. He never alludes to it 
exce]5t once, in a note at the end of his interrupted Shabby-yen- 
teel Story ; yet his works are full of it. Milton once or twice 
mentions his own blindness, and then passes on, forgetting self 
in his epic inspiration. Thackeray never mentions, and yet 
never forgets, or allows his readers to forget, the cloud that 
darkened his life, and tinged all his feelings with a funereal 
hue. Like Hamlet, he had seen a ghost; and, though he 
swore all his senses to secresy, he could not conceal the trans- 
formation of character which had been worked in him by the 
visitation. The meditation of his life was concentrated on one 
hopeless feeling, without antecedent or consequent, the shadow 
of which made the rest of his existence a weary, stale, flat, and 
unprofitable blank. His misfortune made him look upon the 
world with the eye of a humourist who had nothing more to 
do than to deliver his brief message and die, and planted the 
suspicion in his mind that in the secret closet of all woebegone 

Thackeray, 407 

men a skeleton sometliing like his own was hanging. To this 
we trace much of his peculiar humour. 

Satire is the offspring of indignation ; but humour is the 
child of melancholy. The first stage of humour begins with 
that mental and physical lassitude which succeeds acute sor- 
row, when the man, having strung his feelings beyond their 
usual tension, and exerted his thoughts beyond their common 
pitch, must either sink into inanity, or seek relief in some 
sportive change. 

rtXXoTf n^v re yoo) cfiptva repTrofiai, aXXore S' avre 
Trauo/xai* al'^'qpos be Kopos Kpvepoio yooto. 

Niebuhr accounts for the gay and bantering tone of Cicero^s 
speech pro Murcena, delivered amidst the harassing anxieties of 
Catiline's conspiracy, by the levity with which a great statesman 
tarns to private matters, unable to conceive how a person to 
whom they are all in all can feel offended at the natural expres- 
sion of a good-natured contempt. Hamlet, just harrowed by the 
Ghost's revelation, bawls out to his companions in the most 
boisterous way. Cruelty generally conceals itself behind a ludi- 
crous and grotesque way of regarding the horrors it inflicts. "I 
deny that nature meant us to sympathise with agonies,^' says 
Charles Lamb ; " those face contortions, retortions, distortions, 
have the merriness of antics. Nature meant them for farce." 
Pain and sorrow gradually fade away in humour : 

" Men who wear grief long 
Will get to wear it as a hat, aside, 
AVith a flower stuck in it." 

The transition maybe difficult to explain, but it is a fact. Every 
cause has more than one effect. As the reaction of too keen a 
joy causes tears, so does the reaction of grief cause a kind of 
moody merriment as one of its effects : 

" Each substance of a grief hath twenty shadows, 
Which show like grief itself, but are not so." 

Humour in its first stage is one of these attendant shadows. It 
is the act of the heart seeking to suppress the first feelings ex- 
cited by overwhelming thoughts, and to substitute for them the 
secondary feelings which arise with the reaction of lassitude. It 
is the reality which the affectation of Byron strove to imitate 
when it confessed that the prizes of life were not worth living 
for, and therefore gave itself up helplessly to a hatred of man- 
kind, pretended to have found out the hoUowness of every aim 
of life, and resigned itself to be the slave of vices which had 
become hateful through satiety. Swift was a truer exponent of 
it ; but even in his hands it appeared to Thackeray quite heart- 
less and wrong. 

498 Thackeraij. 

The second stage of humour cultivates these secondary feelings 
no longer in order to suppress the sterner thoughts for which 
they were substituted, but to excite the like feelings by remi- 
niscence and association. After the mind has descended from 
painful excitement to a kind of weary levity, it can reverse its 
course, and ascend again through something akin to this levity 
to something resembling the original excitement. This reversed 
motion is the second degree of humour. Its aim is to restore, 
in a reflective form, those same feelings which were so painful in 
their direct action as to force the mind to take refuge in levity. 
If we consider what it is from which we usually try to escape by 
this issue, we shall find that it is not the vicious feelings, such 
as hatred, envy, and revenge, which, however painful, give us a 
morose and gloomy joy as long as we care to brood over them, 
but those bitter-sweet feelings which the conscience does not con- 
demn, though in their first access they are too keen to be long 
endurable, — pity, sorrow, awe, and fear. Cruelty is humorous, 
not to escape the morose pleasure of inflicting pain, but to escape 
the accompanying disapprobation of the conscience. Its humour 
is of the first stage ; it is intolerant of the second, which would 
tend to renew the pricks of conscience. "VVe may define humour, 
then, in its second and proper stage, to be an ironical method of 
restoring, through the imagination, those tender and pathetic 
feelings which in their first visitation over-excited the soul, and 
soon brought on the reaction of an almost delirious lassitude. 
It is an attempt to go up the same ladder which w^e came down ; 
to reascend through levity to pathos, as we descended from 
pathos to levity. 

There is an intellectual as well as a moral humour. As faith, 
overwrought, unbends itself in the irreverent familiarities of a 
Neapolitan mob, so is it possible to reverse the motion, and to 
reascend to faith through the ironical mockeries of an apparent 
scepticism. An example of this process is afforded by the Book 
of Ecclesiastcs, which dull commentators have regarded as a mere 
cold, materialistic outpouring of Sadducism. The same learned 
pundits would doubtless gather from Erskine's humorous remark 
on a miser who had died worth 200,000/., " A pretty sum to 
begin the next world with," that he believed ghosts bought and 
sold in limbo. 

It is hard to imagine that the connection between any parti- 
cular painful feeling and its humorous reaction depends on a pre- 
established harmony of things, and not rather on an accidental 
association of ideas, deriving its power from the organisation of 
the individual mind. Humour, on this view, is a personal thing. 
AVhat is humorous to one man may not be so to another. He 
who is dull to a species of hiunour which affects the majority, 

Thackeray, 409^ 

may be fully alive to another species which, most men have no 
taste for. Humour reveals the man and his individual feelings, 
and has little to do with logic or dialectics. But it can never be 
selfish. Humour and the selfish passions — pride, conceit, vanity, 
an exaggerated sense of dignity, — and the desires built upon them 
— ambition, covetousness, and self-seeking, — are mutually destruc- 
tive of each other. Pride cannot laugh at itself without ceasing to 
be pride ; and the sense of personal dignity has found its true level 
when it can treat itself with easy contempt. The second kind 
of humour, that ironical levity by which we seek to restore the 
original feelings, is still more inconceivable as a stepping-stone 
to selfishness. Fancy founding pride upon self-ridicule, or vanity 
upon a confession of one's foibles ! Humour, then, can never 
be the foundation of offensive egotism, though the humourist 
must be allowed to make people look through his eyes, and in 
the simplicity of his heart to preach a novel view of the world 
and of society, and to broach new plans for making mankind 
happy. Any more concentrated form of selfishness is hateful 
to him; since his method is only applicable to feelings of tender- 
ness, melancholy, and sorrow, to the sentiments that respond to 
death, or misfortune, or the instability of happiness, or the ex- 
tinction of love. Selfish motives and selfish vices have nothing 
in common with these feelings, and therefore excite in him no 
interest, but rather indignation and abhorrence; whereas the 
aberrations of weakness and tenderness stand in no such contra- 
diction to his feelings, and are treated with great indulgence. 

It may be asked how the pathetic feelings come to be so keen 
as to be intolerable, and yet so attractive as to make us seek to 
restore them. It is because they open out to us a dim view of an 
unknown abyss, of which they seem to be the echoes and vibra- 
tions. Through them our souls are brought into almost con- 
scious contact with the infinite. This it is which gives them 
their insufferable keenness and overwhelming force, and at the 
same time brings them into direct relation with humour, the 
essence of which, as Coleridge points out, consists in confounding 
together all finite things, in making the great little and the little 
great, in order to destroy both, and to exhibit them as equal 
nothings in comparison with the infinite. It is also the reflection 
of the infinite in these feelings which draws us back towards 
them after we have done our best to escape from them, which 
wins us over to love them in spite of their painfulness, and causes 
us to return to them by the same path that led us from them. 
Not that humour seeks to restore these feelings in their direct 
energy, so as once more to pierce the heart and prostrate the 
nerves with terror and pathos. It seeks to bring them back 
modified and mitigated by the humorous levity which succeeded 


500 Thackeray. 

them in the reaction of lassitude, and to restore pathos and 
terror under the veil of the ludicrous images which the cunning 
bravado of a light-headed exhaustion first imposed upon them. 
The preacher, on the contrary, seeks to excite these feelings in 
their native directness. Thackeray seems to have forgotten this 
distinction when he describes the humorous writer as one who 
"professes to awaken and direct your love, your pity, your 
kindness ; your scorn for untruth, pretension, imposture ; your 
tenderness for the weak, the poor, the oppressed, the unhappy ;'' 
as one who " comments on all the ordinary actions and passions 
of life, and takes upon himself to be the week-day preacher." 
The preacher and the humourist both profess this craft; but 
one tries to pierce the flesh with fear, and to make men fix their 
eyes on the Infinite, while the other only tries to awaken an 
indirect reminiscence of the Infinite, through the disproportion 
of his language and imagery to the finite things of which he 
professes to treat. What is the Cervantic method, speaking of 
ridiculous things in the gi-andest phrases, or Swift^s method, 
speaking of grand things in the lowest terms, but a perpetual 
tacit allusion to a common measure, kept in the background, 
unseen but felt, which equalises all finite magnitudes by the 
overwhelming disproportion of its transcendent infinity? 

But if Thackeray overlooked the distinction between the 
preacher and humourist, he did not forget the difference be- 
tween the two kinds of humour. In a remarkable conversa- 
tion between Pendennis and Warrington^ the two men symbolise 
the two degrees in question. Pen, who has tried every thing, 
like Solomon, and has found the vanity of all, breaks out 
into the listless sceptical humour, which neither hopes, nor 
cares, nor believes. Warrington, struck down by a sorrow es- 
sentially different from Thackeray's, but yet similar to it in 
some of its effects, nurses his grief, and makes it the kindly 
mother of an equitable view of mankind. The one seeks 
to escape the presence of the Infinite, through a humorous 
view of life ; the other, by a somewhat similar view, to keep the 
Infinite ever in mind. "We set up,^* says Pen, "our paltry 
little standards to measure Heaven immeasurable, as if, in com- 
parison to that, Newton's mind or Shakespeare's was any loftier 
than mine .... measured by that altitude the tallest and the 
smallest among us are so alike diminutive and pitifully base, 
that we should take no account of the calculation, and it is 
meanness to reckon the difference." Warrington answers, 
" Your figure fails there ; if even by common arithmetic we can 
multiply, as we can reduce, almost infinitely, the Great Reck- 
oner must take account of all ; and the small is not small, or 
4 Pendennis f ii. 231-236. 

Thackeray. 5(fk 

the great great, to His infinity/^ Pen pretends to descend from 
the Infinite to the world, and to find all human dilSPerences piti- 
fully base. Warrington ascends from these differences to the 
Infinite, and finds that their distinctions are even enhanced by 
the process. One divided by infinity is nothing ; but one mul- 
tiplied by infinity is infinite. It is curious that, though Thack- 
eray adopts Pen as his representative, he should make Warring- 
ton the representative of his peculiar humour. Perhaps the 
explanation is, that he is both Pendennis and Warrington, and 
that the two interlocutors represent two phases of his mind be- 
tween which he oscillates. Thus the Pendennis speaks in him 
when he says, " What a good breakfast you eat after an execu- 
tion ! how pleasant it is to cut jokes after it, and upon it !" 
while the Warrington speaks when with keen irony he seeks to 
reproduce in his readers the horror he felt at the " blood tonic'' 
of a public hanging. We may remark, in passing, that if any 
one wishes to see the illogical nature of humour, he has only to 
read the paper entitled Goiiig to see a Man hanged, where he 
will find an argument against executions, founded on these three 
propositions : 1 . Every man in the crowd was as sensible, and 
politically as well educated, as myself. 2. The execution pro- 
duced on me the most profound feeling of shame and horror. 
3. Therefore executions are to be abolished, because they pro- 
duce no feeling at all but one of levity on the unthinking and 
unreasoning mob. The writer does not seem to have remem- 
bered that this levity might be in their case what it was in his 
own — the reaction against a feeling of horror too overwhelming 
to be borne for many seconds in its direct incidence. 

Thackeray calls himself a week-day, and not a Sunday, 
preacher. Perhaps the reason is twofold : first, that his style i? 
humorous, seeking to attain a moral end in a roundabout instead 
of a direct manner; and secondly, that be does not meddle imme- 
diately with the highest things. He leaves the Sunday preacher 
to speak of God, and contents himself with the lower line of 
enforcing the social virtues. These virtues hold a middle place 
between the infinite and the finite ; they have sufficient magni- 
tude to obliterate by comparison all differences between mere 
material interests, and to put to shame all the pretensions of 
rank, wealth, fashion, talents, where virtue and love are wanting, 
— all the objects for which men usually strive, to the neglect of 
the heart, and of the love of wife and children. And then when 
he has done this he turns round upon the affections themselves, 
and declares them also to be tainted with vanity. Love dies, or 
corrupts into hatred. Hope satisfied is disappointment. "Oaths 
mutually sworn, and invocations of heaven, and priestly cere- 
monies, and fond belief, and love, so fond and beautiful that it 

502 Thackeray, 

never doubted but that it should live for ever, are all of no avail 
towards making love eternal; it dies, in spite of the banns and 
the priest.'^ " Vanitas vanitatum ! which of us is happy in this 
world? which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied?" 
Sorrow inspired him with the mood of Shakespeare's Richard IL, 
and made him sit and talk of graves. It gave him the same 
humorous conception of death as an antic, scoffmg at state, 
grinning at pomp, contemptuously granting a few hours for 
conceit to strut through his part, and then boring through his 
castle-wall with a little pin. It made him wash to throw away 
tradition, form, and ceremony, and to realise, ideally, Herr 
Teufelsdrockh's hypochondriac fancy of a whole court stripped 
naked, and dukes, grandees, bishops, generals, anointed presence 
itself standing straddling without a shirt on them, leaving the 
spectator suspended between laughter and tears. But amidst 
these grim fancies he remembered how the banquet of fruits 
tasted before it w^as turned to dust and ashes ; how the music 
sounded before the sweet bells were jangled ; how the brave 
garments glistened before the moth had fretted them. In the 
midst of the fever which embittered his fine taste for pleasure, 
furred his tongue, and dulled his appetite, he babbled of good 
cheer. And the cheery pipe of the brave Epicurean ceased not, 
though he was crushed and maimed under the heels of a gigantic 

His sorrow, again, working on a nature already, perhaps, in- 
clined to give to the sentimental side of humanity too wide a 
part in life, and leaving too little room for energy, thought, and 
skill, made him see the image of his own woe in all other sorrows, 
and attribute them to similar causes. As there is a selfishness of 
love, so there is a selfishness of grief. A man may be so ena- 
moured of his own sentiment as to love being in love more than he 
loves the person with whom he is in love ; and he may feel grief 
so grievously as to transfer his sorrow from the object for which 
he grieves to his grief itself; he may pity himself more than he 
pities his lost friend. Thackeray^s married life was, we believe, 
eminently happy ; and the blow which deprived him of the society 
of his wife was one which could only make him pity her and love 
her the more. Still the effect of a loss thus blamelessly inflicted 
was materially the same as that of less innocent blows. And 
Thackeray, sitting by his lonely fireside, might by a small effort 
of imagination put himself into the place of those who were as 
hopelessly injured, but by others' faults instead of by the unre- 
spective course of nature. Shakespeare shows us Lear attributing 
every misery to unkind daughters. He might as naturally have 
exhibited Hecuba or Niobe seeing in every woe the image of sons 
and daughters untimely snatched away. He might in all three 

Thackeray. 508 

cases have gone a step further back, and made Lear, Hecuba, and 
Niobe find the common source of every sorrow in having sons 
or daughters at all, or, having them, in loving them too well. 
A person in a similar situation, contemplating his misery only, 
and abstracting all consideration of the once dear objects for 
whicli he mourned, might easily work himself up to hate, not 
those objects, but his connection with them — to hate having had 
a wife, or children, whose loss could entail such a sorrow. All 
affection involves this possibility of wretchedness. Having thee, 
says Shakespeare, I have all men's felicity — 

" AVretclied in this alone, that tbou may'st take 
All this away, and me most wretched make." 

An ascetic nature would be led by such a course of thought to 
crush all earthly love. Thackeray Avas led by it to his theor}^ of 
mitigated affections. He took the sting out of happiness by putting 
it on low diet. He guarded against the violence of the reaction by 
curbing the original energy. He indulged in a melancholy and 
listless view of life, which made him represent a second marriage 
as the nearest approach to contented felicity possible on this side 
the grave. In his novels, the first ventures of passion are gene- 
rally unfortunate ; most of his favourite characters either love or 
marry the wrong person, and then find their comfort in the com- 
pany of a child to cheer their widowhood, or, like Warrington, 
gaze wistfully upon some unattainable Laura and veil their heads 
in the mantle of aimless endurance, or else find contentment in a 
new marriage from which they do not expect too much. Middle- 
aged love was for him the happiest because the most measured. 
For this cause his novels seldom end with the marriage of the 
young people, but pursue their career beyond, to show how ill- 
assorted are these unions of youth. He even advises us to drown 
our first loves like blind puppies ; he hints that the edge of this 
keen passion should be blunted on two or three transitory attach- 
ments before it is fitted for domestic use. Thus the head of a 
house at Oxford, some twenty years ago, would get an under- 
graduate to gallop his hack all the morning before he would 
trust himself on its back for his afternoon ride. 

It was not only the violence of passion which he feared as 
tending to an incontrollable reaction, but the blindness which 
such a passion generally produces. He is fond of painting the 
miseries threatened by ill-assorted unions of families, — such as 
that of the Pendennises with the Costigans, or with Fanny and 
her relations, of Warrington with his wife's family, of Clive and 
his father with the Campaigner's household, of Philip with the 
Twysdens. For this reason there was one thing which he detested 
worse than blind passion as a matchmaker — money. For passion 
he had pity and forgiveness ; but a purse-inspecting, lack-love. 

504 Thackeray. 

mismatching Hymen was for him, next to the gallows and war, 
the wickedest thing he could think of. Passion might ferment 
into love ; but what relation could there ever be between love and 
money ? He forgot that money was a mere accident, and that it 
is not the money that a man marries, but the woman who has it ; 
and he forgot the self-adapting powers of the human heart. And 
so, for a very different reason, he scouted, with Johnson, the idea 
that matches were made in heaven. The old moralist thought 
that almost any man and woman might make themselves com- 
fortable together; and that, when it was so easy for people to sort 
themselves, it was mere irreverence to bring doAvn a god in a 
machine to do it for them. But Thackeray considered matches in 
general so ill-sorted that it was as blasphemous to give heaven 
the credit of the business as to give it credit for the horse -dealing 
at Tattersairs. He approved of matchmaking -, no woman worth 
a pin is not a matchmaker, he often says. But the most mortal 
of sinners is the mercenary matchmaker, whose voluntary victims, 
in a disgusting passage oi Philip, he compares to the victims 
of passion, and calls the '^ true unfortunates.^^ He kept a 
very hot hole in his Inferno for unbelievers who pronounced it 
unadvisable to marry without a thousand a year, and made 
several of his favourite heroes marry on nothing ; but they are 
always saved in the nick of time by the death of a rich uncle or 
by a legacy. He gives no illustration of the fate of imprudent 
couples whom no such luck attends. 

We have said enough to show with what native simplicity 
Thackeray exhibits his inmost soul and experiences in his cha- 
racters, in the circumstances with which he surrounds them, in 
his humour, and in his moral judgments and opinions. And he 
reveals his intellect quite as clearly as his heart. We may per- 
haps call his a proverbial mind. The proverb is the verdict of 
popular feeling and shrewd common sense on a given line of 
conduct, pronounced without a thought bestowed on other lines 
for which an opposite decision might be more fitting. To the 
over-venturesome, the proverb-monger whispers " a bird in the 
hand is worth two in the bush,'' without a misgiving of en- 
couraging that over-caution to which he shouts out the next 
minute, "nothing venture, nothing win.'' Proverbs are but 
extemporaneous, and therefore unarranged, ejaculations of cau- 
tion or encouragement. They run in couples, pointed against 
the two contradictory extremes to which any true principle 
may be pushed. Our old writers were fond of keeping up a 
game of repartees, dialogue-wise, in proverbs. This could not 
be done with principles, which take the middle line; though their 
abuse may be corrected by their attendant proverbs, their true 
meaning cannot be contradicted without sophistry. There is no 

Thackeray, 505 

current objection to tlie principles, '^ do as you would be done 
by/^ and " render to each his due," except in the world of cheats 
and pickpockets. 

If this is the nature of proverbs, a man's mind may be called 
proverbial when he has a shrewd, observant common sense at 
the service of a precipitate judgment — when he is so preoccupied 
by the case in hand that he has no eyes or ears for exceptions, 
but chivalrously challenges all the world to dispute the sove- 
reign claim of the clear truth which for the moment enthrals 
his soul. Sufficient for the occasion is the truth thereof. He 
throws himself into the controversy of the hour, takes the popu- 
lar side with his whole soul, and devotes all the brilliancy of his 
wit to stating its principles in the most axiomatic form. He is 
not careful of contradicting himself. Relying upon the people, 
he thinks it next door to blasphemy when one man brings his 
poor logic into competition with the inspirations of the great 
heart of humanity. He habitually makes the reason a parasite 
of feeling, devotes the brain to the service of the heart, and is 
ashamed at no lapse of logic which is defensible by sentiment. 
He treats reason as the Philistines treated Samson ; he sets it 
to grind, or brings it out to make sport. He suspects intel- 
lectual superiority to be rather a stumbling-block than a spur to 
jog-trot goodness, and only to be valued as lending a tongue to 
geniality, nature, cordiality, freshness, and honest impulsiveness, 
wherewith to defy, ridicule, and lampoon their opposites. Or he 
takes another road, and views every thing from the standpoint 
of the most wide-awake self-interest. He rejoices in exhibiting 
art, reason, genius, respectability, in undress and slippers, to the 
confusion of prim people. He recklessly shows up his enemies, 
himself, and his friends, who are duly grateful. He loves to 
contradict some respectable old platitude, some self-evident truth 
to which he has discovered an exception. "It is an error,'' 
says Thackeray, " to talk of the simplicity of youth. No per- 
sons are more hypocritical, and have a more affected behaviour 
to one another than the young. They deceive themselves and 
each other with artifices which do not impose upon men of the 
world; and so we get to understand truth better, and grow 
simpler, as we grow older." 

The two classes into which Thackeray's writings and charac- 
ters divide themselves are a natural result of the polarity of the 
proverbial mind, which evacuates the flats in the middle, and 
occupies the heights on each hand. Hence also comes his multi- 
fariousness, which is the despair of critics. He has no care to 
be consistent. His soul is a crystal of many facets, each reflect- 
ing truly and brilliantly the scene lying in its axis. His hospit- 
-able brain is tolerant of contradictions. He not only sees that 

506 Thackeray, 

a fact is a fact, in spite of want of logic, but he also takes his 
generalisations for facts, and exalts his proverbial maxim, flashed 
out from two or three instances, into a general principle, and so 
passes from the truth that contradictory -looking facts arc pos- 
sible together, to the fiction that contradictory principles can 
coexist, — a fiction which gradually undermines all allegiance to 
intellectual truth, sets up sincerity as more true than ortho- 
doxy, squeezes all dogma out of religion, all certainty out of 
j)hilos^phy, all principles out of politics, and all form, ceremony, 
degree, and order out of society. Then he more easily pardons 
sins against truth than against beauty, and so cuts away the old 
ground of respectable criticism. The literary honours he seeks 
are tears and sympathy with his sorrow and his mirth. He 
would be the toast-master to direct the sentiments of mankind, 
rather than the philosopher to guide their belief. With logical 
sharaelessness he mixes a certain want of shame for aesthetic 
weaknesses which minds less tender seek to conceal. With his 
contempt for critics, he makes no secret of his annoyance at 
criticism ; yet, with his want of fixed principles, he often adopts 
for the moment those of the critic who inflicts the wound. Or 
he staves-off" criticism by being beforehand with it, anticipating 
grumblers by himself saying what he knows they will say. 
" Pereant male qui ante nos nostra dixerunt \" Nothing is easier 
than to criticise Thackeray's weak places ; but nothing is harder 
than to say of them what he has not somewhere said before us. 
He seeks indulgence for his sin by a previous confession of it, 
and puts on the penitential sheet before he utters his lampoons. 
He is sorry that such a set has always been made against clever 
women, and then he creates a Becky and a Beatrix ! He tells 
us that a public school ruins a boy body and soul,^ and then 
dwells lovingly on his Charter-House life. He abuses Dickens 
and Ainsworth for erecting thieves and prostitutes into heroes 
and heroines by an ex-parte statement of their virtues, and then 
praises Oliver Twist almost as pious reading. At the end of 
Pendennis he tells us how the hero, that is himself, became a 
member of parliament. In The Newcomes that dignity is achieved 
by the Colonel ; but in Philip, after the Oxford failure of 1857, 
he makes the cynical but truth-speaking old lord wish some 
tyrant would shut up all our "jaw-shops," and gives the sour 
vintage as a prize to the wicked Mulatto. To make a catalogue 
of his various contradictions would be an endless task, and would 
not help us much to discriminate his character, since similar 
contradictions are common to all comprehensive intellects. We 
call Shakespeare "myriad-minded," because "millions of strange 
shadows" attended on him. Instead of the one shade which 

» Miscell. iv. 241. 

Thackeray. 507 

common mortals cast, lie, but one, could '^ every shadow lend." 
But he combined all their tones into one mighty volume, where- 
as in Thackeray we seek in vain for any such combining force. 
The first principle in Shakespeare's mind was that which gave 
the sceptre to " degree, priority, and place, insistence, course, 
proportion, season, form, office, and custom in all line of order." 
The first effect of Thackeray^ s philosophy is to undermine the 
supremacy of order and ceremony because of the abuses to which 
it gives rise. He hated the cut-and-dry in the state, in spciety, 
or in the mind. He had not much sympathy with the starched 
ruffles of the Elizabethan epoch. He liked the loose extempo- 
raneous epigrammatic flashes of Anne's time, or the mythical 
wildness of the youth of Henry V., the young prince and Poins, 
of which period he once contemplated writing a stor}^ He be- 
lieved in wild oats. He thought, with old Elowerdale in the 
London Prodigal j that " they who die most virtuous have in their 
youth lived most vicious." Shakespeare believed in them too, 
— as a possibility, not as a necessity. He did not take a re- 
formed prodigal as his universal type of the manly character. 
Thackeray made his wild-oats theory almost into an axiom, 
whereas Shakespeare only made it one among the numberless 
colours which he employed in painting his great panorama of 

His dislike to the cut-and-dry, which led him to prefer the 
literature of the age of Anne, — Addison, Steele, Fielding, and 
Swift, and the '^cheery charming gossip" of Horace Walpole, 
leading us through his "brilliant, jigging, smirking Vanity Fair," 
together with HowelFs Letters, Montaigne's Essays, French lite- 
rature generally, and, above all, Horace, — did not prevent him 
from being a man of artificial mind. However much he railed 
at the forms of polite society, he understood them better than 
the forms of humanity. Compare his backgrounds with George 
Eliot's. George Eliot has nothing more busy, nothing more 
true to life, than that wonderful picture of Waterloo without the 
fighting, which we have in Vanity Fair. Yet, when we come to 
look at it, it is but a busy mass of camp-followers. All the arti- 
ficial combinations of men — a regiment, a school, a college, an 
academy of arts, a boarding-house, a dramng-room, ambubaiarum 
collegia, pharmacopolse — he paints them all to perfection; but 
not a populace, not a mob, not the society of a country town or a 
village, not a civil or political society, not even a family. Where 
George Eliot would have given us the movements of the Brus- 
sels mob and of the native society, Thackeray only gives us the 
pulsations of the hearts of the officer's wives and servants, and 
of runaway soldiers and their sweethearts. What idea have 
we of the domestic economy of the Pendennises, or Newcomes, 

508 Thackeray, 

or Twysdens, comparable to that which George Eliot gives us of 
the miller on the Floss, his children, his wife, and sisters-in-law, 
or of the Bedes, the Poysers, or the Casses ? Thackeray is in 
his glory in the drawing-room, the club, the studio, the ball- 
room, at Baden Baden, or at the West-End of London ; where 
George Eliot is almost as clumsy as a swan on a turnpike road. 
He hardly recognised the fact that the literary, artistic, learned, 
and polite society which he enjoyed so much was only the bloom 
of a vast tree, the top-story of an enormous basement, all held 
together by the gradation, law, and order, which his philosophy 
unduly depreciates. He was somewhat like the rustic who sat 
on the branch that he was sawing off. 

His artistic forms were determined by his vocation as 
preacher and humourist. As preacher he was not subject to 
the law actum ne agas, but had a perfect right to iterate his 
lessons. " Oh, my beloved congregation, I have preached this 
stale sermon to you for ever so many years." As humourist 
he was not bound to be consecutive ; for digression is the very 
form and vehicle of humour, which is not found in orderly 
arrangement, but in extraordinary comparisons and juxtaposi- 
tions of the great with the little. He reconciled the somewhat 
inconsistent tasks of humourist and stoiy-teller in three different 
ways. The most artistic is that used in Barry Lyndon, Esmond^ 
and Lovel the Widower, where the hero is also the nan-ator. For 
in an autobiography the author does not profess to deal only with 
the events, but also with the impression they make on him : 
his reflections are perfectly in place ; they are no impertinent 
interferences, but integral parts of the original design. In 
his other novels he either acts as chorus in his own person, or 
employs some fictitious character as narrator and chorus. In 
Vanity Fair he uses the former method, and asks leave, in- 
troducing his characters, to step down from the platform and 
offer his explanations about them. Otherwise, he says, you might 
fancy it was I who was sneering at devotion, or laughing good- 
humouredly at a drunken villain. Where he uses a fictitious 
person like Pendennis to narrate for him, the effect is improved ; 
Pendennis and Laura, like George Eliot's village or Florentine 
communities, form a kind of background to the piece, and serve 
to connect the plot with the preachings. 

Several causes conspire to make Esmond his best novel. We 
have already noticed the value of its autobiographical form. An- 
other reason is its thoroughly literary character. Alone of his 
larger works it was not given to the world in monthly parts, but 
all at once. Its laborious imitation of the style of the writers of 
Anne's age, its circumstantial exactness to the costume, the man- 
ners, and the feelings of those times, were voluntary fetters, which 

Thackeray, 509 

only increased the agility and grace of the athlete. It will not 
be so valuable to the antiquarian of the next century as a contem- 
porary painting ; but it will be proportionately more valuable to 
the poet as a picture of human nature. Pegasus never exhibits 
his mettle so well as when he is checked with the brake; nothing 
makes the reader yawn more than an art which flew down the 
writer's mouth while he was yawning. Labour sharpens the 
mind and polishes the wit; its benefit is not confined to the 
single detail on which it is expended ; it reacts on the workman, 
and through him on his whole work and all its parts. To aim 
at clearness of expression is also to seek clearness of thought, 
logical arrangement of parts, and unity of the whole. Esmond 
has Thackeray^ s best plot, some of his best characters, his most 
subtle reflections, his most delicate pathos, and his most poetic 
language. There are single sentences in it which contain more 
poetry than all his ballads, the best of which are the funniest and 
most nonsensical. 

Vanity Fair is his most objective work, because none of the 
characters in it are portraits of himself. Dobbin, perhaps, like 
his more finished successor Colonel Newcome, is a character par- 
tially copied from the simpler and less vigorous side of Thackeray^s 
own nature. But he was never meant for a representative of the 
author, like Pen, Clive, and Philip. The other characters of the 
book are painted not from the author^s self-consciousness, but 
from imagination not over-much disturbed by theory, and em- 
ploying its extraordinary powers of observation with Shandean 
minuteness. Here his knowledge of the world comes out in 
great force, reflected in Becky^s tact. He is said to have been 
not remarkably gifted with this quality; and in painting it 
so well, therefore, he gave proof of being able to appreciate what 
he was unable to assimilate. But it is one thing to write, 
another to act on the spur of the moment. Thackeray com- 
plains that his inward counsellor was a tardy Epimetheus, and 
that his best witticisms were generally too late. 

He was chary of his ideas. As Cervantes traverses the same 
ground for the second, third, or fourth time, if he can find so 
many improved methods of going over it, so Thackeray gathers 
up the ideas he has wasted, or has not made the most of, and 
works them up again. His successive portraits of managing old 
women — Miss Crawley, Lady Castlewood, Lady Rockminster, 
the Baroness Bernstein, and Lady Kew — are well worth studying, 
as varied developments of a single idea. He used a character or 
an incident as a musician uses a tune ; he repeated it, or varied 
it, or inverted it, as his fancy moved him. We see the last 
method employed in the inverted correspondence between the 
parentage of Esmond and that of PhiUp Firmin — and between 

510 I'hackeray. 

Esmond^s renunciation of his mothers rights for fear of dispos- 
sessing Frank Castlewood, and the little sister's renunciation of 
her OAvn rights for fear of dispossessing Philip. 

We fear we have said too little on Thackeray's comic power ; 
indeed, we have said nothing about it, except what is implied in 
our remarks on his humour. And, perhaps, the less said the 
better. " Qui ejus rei rationem quandam conati sunt artemque 
tradere," says Caesar in Cicero, " sic insulsi exstiterunt, ut nihil 
aliud eorum, nisi ipsa insulsitas, rideatur." Neither will we 
praise the beauty of his language in our rough periods. Nor will 
we speak of his drawings. But there is one subject on which we 
are constrained to say a few words — his religious tendencies. 
There can be no doubt that he once tried to be a Catholic. " I 
cannot believe,'' he makes Esmond say, ^^that St. Francis Xavier 
sailed over the sea in a cloak, or raised the dead. I tried, and 
very nearly did once, but cannot." Comparing this with similar 
passages in Pendennis and The Neivcomes, we cannot doubt its 
being a confession both of his tendency and of the obstacles which 
checked him. At some period of his life, and in accordance with 
the nature of his mind, more prone to believe in persons than 
principles, he was led by some that he loved or admired to wish 
to believe in the old religion; but then came in the wearied 
scepticism which he has painted in Pendennis^ too exhausted to 
distinguish between substance and accident, between the eternal 
truths which the new convert must necessarily accept, and the 
extraneous remnants of ancestral tradition which old believers 
naturally cling to, without having the right to impose them on 
the proselyte. No, he seems to say, truth is truth ; a chain is 
no stronger than its weakest link; a system is not more true 
than the most extraneous doctrine which it allows and encourages. 
If St. Francis's cloak-boat founders, St. Peter's bark is wrecked 
too. In relation to the Infinite, both are alike, and it is mean- 
ness to note the difference. Hence he contracted a great and 
increasing dislike for the Catholic system, upon which he stuck 
all the aberrations of casuists, all the impossibilities of legends, 
all the false opinions of extravagant theologians, all the political 
insincerities and crimes of plotters and conspirators for rehgious 
ends. The result was to turn our creed into a monstrous in- 
credibility, which he very properly refused to accept. But while 
he was thus unfair to the system, he took care to paint portraits 
of its profcssoi's for which Catholics owe him some gratitude. 
He says that among them alone can real devotion be found, or 
real interest in doctrine for its own sake be met with. The por- 
trait of old Madame do Florae is as good and true as any Catholic 
could have painted; and its effect is enhanced by a compari- 
son with her pendants, Lady Walham and Lady Jane Crawley. 

Thackeray, 511 

Father Holt, witli all liis absurd plots, is a mncli more reput- 
able figure than the Tushers, Sampsons, Honeymans, and Hunts, 
who represent the clergy of his own communion. With his 
usual luck, his liking went one way and his judgment another. 
Those who consider his philosophical judgment stronger than his 
insight into character will do well to constitute him a new wit- 
ness for Protestantism. 

We end as we began ; on whichever side we look at Thacke- 
ray, we see that his great characteristic was the manifestation of 
soul. Every thing in him was subservient to this great object of 
his life and art. Yet, with all this consistency, a thorough want 
of unity is every where noticeable. He divided his soul from his 
reason, and his reason against itself. His soul, numerically one, 
set about its task of self-manifestation in all simplicity and 
purity. Yet, rejecting the primacy of reason, it could arrive at 
no fixed criterion, no unassailable principles of judgment. It is 
weakly attracted by other souls; it clings to persons, to friends, to 
any one who says a kind word, does a kind deed, smiles or laughs 
or weeps w^th it. Hence it is at the mercy of impostors and 
pretenders, believing every man till it finds him out, and then 
believing him in nothing; exhibiting first an impetuous credu- 
lity that accepts the heresy for love of the heretic, and then an 
obstinate unbelief that rejects the truth out of disgust for the 
orthodox offender; walking through the world as a chameleon, 
borrowing its tints from the colours which surround it, from the 
hues which happen to be in the air, without possessing any sove- 
reign principle which enables it to choose what is true, and to 
reject what is false and unreasonable. 

But throughout these changes Thackeray in the main pre- 
served his ethical uprightness, and kept his heart pure. Though, 
under the influence of the muscular school of religion, he in his 
later days showed a tendency to excuse little wrongs done to 
secure great rights, his lessons in other respects were all on the 
side of virtue. He never wrote what could raise a blush on 
the most modest face. He ever loathed such geniuses as Ptous- 
seau or Richardson, who could paint so accurately the struggles 
and woes of Eloise and Clarissa, and the wicked arts and triumphs 
of Lovelace. Like Chiron, he was a master of our school of 
gentlemen, the inventor of a music to charm our ears, of a medi- 
cine to heal some of our lighter wounds. Like Chiron, too, he 
was great, but not complete — a union of discords not harmonised 
by any triumphant, dominant note. The fantasia he played to 
us was brilliant and various, pathetic and comic by turns. The 
figure he displayed to us was a noble one, full of strength, and 
refined as far as art could polish it. But still — 

** Stat duplex, nuUo completus corpore, Chiron." 

[ 512 ] 


The comparison of the forms which epic poetry has developed 
in different ages and countries, while it reveals their various 
individual characteristics, yet leads us to the conclusion that 
there are certain general features which will be found when- 
ever and wherever such poetry arises. All these general cha- 
racteristics may be stated in the one proposition that the epic, 
rightly so called, is essentially popular, the work of unlearned 
men for unlearned men. Its birth and home is amongst the 
lower orders, as is or was the case with the Servian ballads, the 
Finnish runes, the Danish and Swedish popular lays, and the 
songs of the Faero islanders ; or else, it is essentially the poetry 
of a warlike aristocracy, intended for their praise and amuse- 
ment, which is the case of the Chanson de Roland and the Old 
Norse Eddaic songs. As war was in olden times more or less 
the occupation of at least every free-born man, it is sometimes 
difficult to say whether the epic songs celebrating its exploits 
are more especially the property of the people at large or of 
their noble chieftains. Instances of this difficulty are fur- 
nished by the German Nibelungen, the Romances of the Cid, 
and the Iliad. But one thing is quite certain. The poets, 
whether they belong to the lower ranks or to the aristocracy, 
are, like their audience, unlettered men, better able to wield 
the sword, or maybe in some instances the implements of 
agriculture, than the pen. 

Hence it folloA7s that all genuine epic poetry is at its begin- 
ning composed in the popular language, and handed down by 
oral tradition. Afterwards, when it has been written down, it 
may become the object of more or less artificial and learned 
imitation ; and then it may make use of an antiquated form of 
speech; nay, occasionally even of a foreign language, as is done 
in many medieval epics, based on popular tradition, but written 
in Latin. 

Poetry can only be listened to in the intervals of serious 
activity. Such moments of repose are necessarily short. Festi- 
vities and banquets are not every-day occurrences ; and even 
when they arrive, but a small part of their 'duration can be 
occupied in listening to the minstrel. Necessarily, therefore, 
the poems recited must be short, as the time as well as the 
patience of the hearers would soon be exhausted. The ballad 

' Le Mahubhurata^ traduit completement pour la premiere fois du Sanscrit 
en franoais par H. Fauche. Vol. I. Paris, 1863. 

Indian Epic Poetry, 513 

is consequently the natural and original form of all epic poetry. 
Wherever in modern times we have been able, so to speak, to 
lay hold on the epic in the act of its generation, we have 
invariably found short poems, which might be easily connected 
with larger wholes, but which, as a matter of fact, have not been 
so connected. Witness the Scandinavian and Servian songs, 
and the Finnish Kalevala, which has been constructed by the 
Swedish editors out of a number of small pieces ; and Mac- 
pherson's ingenious forgery must give way before the genuine 
Ossianic poetry, as contained, for instance, in the Book of Lis- 
more, and consisting of course of short pieces. It stands to 
reason, therefore, that the Eddaic songs about Sigurd present a 
more original form of the Teutonic epic than the long contin- 
uous poem of the !Nibelungen, and that the Poema del Cid is 
founded on short romances about the Spanish hero, similar to 
those that we still possess. In the same manner, we should be 
justified in concluding that the Iliad must have been preceded 
by short ballads on Achilles and the siege of Troy, and that 
the same would hold good of the Chanson de Roland, even if 
traces of the existence of such shorter poems had not been 
pointed out, in the former case by Lachmann, and in the latter 
by Fauriel. We need scarcely remark that, when such popular 
songs are once in existence, it may be possible, even perhaps 
toitkout the help of writing, for a poetical genius to plan and 
execute a composition on a larger scale, — a so-called epos. Such 
a poem may^ of course, hold every possible relation to the old 
ballads, from merely stringing them together, as in the case of 
the Kalevala, to such an almost complete unity as the Odyssey 
seems to present; and when once constructed, by whatever 
means, it will call forth naturally other works of a similar cha- 
racter. What we must insist upon is only this — that the origin 
of all these long works is invariably to be traced to short 

The characteristics we have ascribed to epic poetry imply 
that in the vast majority of cases it would only originate and 
thrive in a semi-civilised society. Such a society is almost 
always habitually engaged in warfare. Hence epic poetry is, 
as a rule, extremely warlike, the only notable exception being 
presented by the Finnish Kalevala, the peculiarity of which in 
this respect is to be accounted for by the position of the nation, 
the Swedish rule having forced the Finns long ago to abandon 
war and take to peaceful occupations. 

If we now turn to the two great works which are for us the 
representatives of the achievements of the Hindus in this de- 
partment of literature, namely, the Mahabharata and Rama- 
yana, we shall be struck at first sight with the remarkable con- 

514 Indian Epic Poetry. 

trast they present to the epic characteristics laid down above. 
For nearly the only point in which these Indian productions 
would seem to agree with the European epics is their strongly 
warlike spirit. A great battle between the Kauravas and Pan- 
davas, two mythical races of kings, forms the centre of the 
Mahabhrirata ; and the subject of the Rrimayana is the war of 
Kama against a superhuman monster, Ravana. We shall pre- 
sently have to limit our assertion, and shall point out that, in- 
timately blended with the heroic enthusiasm, there is in these 
great poems a spirit of piety and religiousness which shows 
that other besides warlike influences have been at work in 
the creation of them. But in spite of these other currents of 
thought and feeling, the stir and activity of military life is 
visible every w^here and decidedly paramount. Even the gods 
act in a martial way. Not only do they provide their favourite 
heroes with celestial weapons, but Indra [Zeus], for instance, is 
busily engaged in fighting the demons, and S'iva encounters 
Arjuna in the shape of a mountaineer. The Brahmans them- 
selves share this fierce spirit. Paras'urama {i. e. the Rama of 
the hatchet), a descendant of the holy sage Bhrigu, and son of 
the hermit Jamadagni, is a good example of this. The king 
Arjuna had been received hospitably by Jamadagni ; but in 
return for this goodness he had carried off the calf of the sage's 
sacrificial car. Paras'urama, incensed at this injustice towards 
his father, slays Arjuna, and Arjuna's sons in turn kill Jama- 
dagni, whereupon Paras'urfmia vows and executes severe ven- 
geance on all the Kshattriya (warrior) caste. 2 " Having greatly 
and piteously lamented his father in manifold wise, he of great 
penance performed for him all the sacrificial ceremonies ; Rama, 
the conqueror of the towns of his foes, burned his father in fire ; 
and he promised to destroy the whole caste of warriors. Full 
of anger and of strength, the powerful hero having taken his 
weapon, killed all the sons of Arjuna, like unto the god of 
death. And the Kshattriyas who were their followers, them 
also Rama crushed all, he the best of champions : twenty-seven 
times emptying the earth of all Kshattriyas, he, the lord, made 
five lakes of blood in Samanta-panchaka. And then by a 
great sacrifice the son of Jamadagni satiated the gods, and 
gave the earth to the officiating priests. Thus there arose 
enmity between him and the Kshattriyas dwelling in the 
world, and thus the earth also was conquered by Rama of 
unmeasured splendour." 

Strange deeds these certainly for a member of the Brah- 
manic caste, and the son of a holy anchorite ; and we may well 
maintain that epic poetry Avhich attributes such deeds even to 
2 Mahabharata, b. iv. 20100. 

Indian Epic Poetry, 515 

priests is intensely warlike. But, on the other hand, this story 
of Paras'ununa (who, hy the bye, is entirely diiFerent from the 
hero of the Ramayana) evidently is intended to teach a severe 
lesson to the men of the military caste ; inasmuch as it records 
the fearful vengeance which an injured Brahman can bring 
upon his enemies. 

And this leads us to the second peculiarity of the Indian 
epic, namely, its religious, or, to speak more correctly, priestly 
and hierarchical character. Every where the duties of religion, 
sacrifices, respect for the Brahmans, &c. are inculcated in it, 
and its heroes — at least most of them — are as eminent for their 
piety as for their bravery. In the episode of Savitri, which 
forms part of the third book of the Mahabharata, the character 
of Satyavat, who is the husband of the princess just named, and 
is evidently intended as a paragon of all possible excellences, is 
thus described by Narada, the divine messenger :^ " He is like 
Vivas vat [the sun] shining, equal to Vrihaspati [the priest of 
the gods] in wisdom, like the great Indra a hero, like the earth 
patient, in benevolence like unto Ratidevathe offspring of San- 
krita, by his own accord, pious, speaking the truth, as S'ivi the 
king of Us'inara, as the magnanimous Yayati of friendly aspect, 
like one of the two As'vins [Dioscuri] in beauty, is the strong- 
son of Dyumatsena. He is a self-conquering and mild hero ; he 
is truthful, holding his senses in subjection. He is amiable, not 
given to discontent, modest, and resolute; and for ever there is 
in him justice and unwavering firmness. Thus is he described 
by the sages rich in penance and virtue.'' Narada goes on to 
state that, but for the circumstance of his being destined to an 
early death, there would be indeed no fault in this excellent 
young hero. It is true this is only an ideal ; but some of the 
great personages of the Indian epic, such as Rama and Yudhi- 
shthira, the latter one of the heroes of the Mahabharata, present 
similar features, as far as they can be made consistent with their 
warlike exploits. That such ideals of character, as well as that 
of the avenger Paras'urama, were conceived by Brahmans there 
can be no doubt After this, it is not surprising that the In- 
dian epic should have long didactic passages, chiefly intended 
to inculcate the peculiar Brahmanical philosophy, and due obe- 
dience of the other castes to the priests. Nor shall we feel 
much astonishment when we hear that the Mahabharata is ac- 
tually looked upon as a religious book, and that it is described 
in the introduction in the following manner :* " The twice- 
born,'^ who knows the four Vedas, with the Vedangas and 


3 in. 16672. * i. G45. 

* By " twice-born" are meant the three upper castes, as receiving their second 
spiritual birth by the study of scripture. 

VOL. IV. m m 

516 Indian Epic Poetry. 

Upanishads,^ but does not know this story, cannot be a wise 
man. From the sin which a Brahman commits during the 
day, through the action of the senses, he is free if he recites the 
Mahabharata at evening twilight ; from the sin which he com- 
mits in the night by act^ thought, or deed, he is freed if he 
recites the Mahabharata in the morning." Similar promises 
abound throughout the work. Thus, at the end of the episode 
of the deluge, it is said that whoever is a constant hearer of it 
" he will go to heaven in happiness with all his wishes fulfilled." 
No wonder that the Mahabharata should claim for itself equal 
authority with the Vedic writings :" " The wise man Avho re- 
cites this poem, and those who hear it, reaching the station of 
Brahma, obtain similitude with the gods. For it is united with 
the Yedas, and the highest means of purification. In it the 
way to riches and pleasure is entirely propounded, and the 
highest wisdom is in this very holy epic. If a wise man recites 
before noble, liberal, truthful, and believing men this Veda 
of Krishna [name of the author, otherwise Vyasa], he shall 
enjoy riches. Even from the guilt of the murder of an unborn 
child a man is released hearing this epic, even though he be a 
fearful sinner.'" 

How entirely the peculiar religious notions of the Brah- 
mans are blended with the idea of epic poetry, is clearly 
seen from an amusing attempt at translating the beginning 
of the Iliad into Sanskrit, which is to be found in the 
Journal of the German Oriental Society.^ It was composed 
by a learned Hindu at the request of a European scholar, 
and runs thus : " "Why has the noble son of Paliyas, Akhil- 
lisa, engaged in meditation, formerly uttered a curse against 
the Akhayas, he the proud sage, saying : All of you shall 
meet your end in battle, you wicked ones. These bodies 
of yours shall be the food of jackals, dogs, and birds, and 
your souls shall depart to the nether world.'' In spite of 
the names, few of us would have recognised the fierce son 
of Thetis in this disguise, using curses instead of Aveapons. 
But nothing could be more truly Indian ; and the Hindu poems 
abound in stories of miraculous vengeance inflicted on evil- 
doers by the mere word of a holy anchorite. It is certain, then, 
that, however much the Kshattriya caste contributed to the 
Mahabharata and Ramayana, the Brahmans have had a great 
deal to do with their composition. If, therefore, the Mahabha- 
rata states of itself that it was composed by Vydsa, a son of the 

« These constitute (with the Brahmanas) the scripture of the Hindus, the 
Vedas themselves being collections of hymns, the Vedi'mgas works illustrating 
them, and the Upanishads philo.sophical treatises. 

' i. 2299. 8 vi. 108. 

Indian Epic Poetry. . 517 

sage Paras'jira, and first recited by the Brahman Vais'ampayana, 
we may take this, upon the whole, as a fair representation of 
the part played by the priestly caste in originating the epics. 
The groundwork must undoubtedly have been due to the min- 
strels of the warrior caste ; but it has been overlaid and to a great 
extent intrinsically altered by Brahmanic additions and modi- 
fications. In so far as this has been the case, the originally 
popular and warlike character has been obscured, and other 
features have been substituted which separate the Indian epic 
from the similar productions of other nations. 

As with the spirit, so it is with the form of these Indian 
poems. "What more striking contrast could be conceived than 
that between a short ballad and the bulky volumes which go 
by the name of the Mahabharata ? The Sanskrit text of these, 
without a single note, occupies four large closely-printed quartos ; 
and M. Fauche, the French translator, informs us in his preface 
that he hopes to finish the translation of the entire work in 
sixteen volumes, of which the only one yet published contains 
599 pages octavo of closely-printed matter. According to a 
statement in the Introduction of the Mahabharata itself,^ the 
work contains 100,000 s'lokas or double verses, counting all the 
episodes, but only 24,000 without them ; that is, even in this 
latter shape it would be more than twice as long as the Iliad, 
whilst in its integrity it would have ten times the bulk of the 
Greek poem, — an estimate which is rather under than above 
the truth. Similarly the Ramayana occupies in Gorresio's edi- 
tion five large octavo volumes. It seems, indeed, as if the 
Hindus in their literary productions wished to rival the dimen- 
sions of the gigantic nature by which they are surrounded. 
Under these circumstances, it is natural that the range of sub- 
jects, especially in the Mahabharata, should be almost unlimited. 
The poem itself boasts of the fact.^^ " This is a treatise on 
riches, this is the great treatise on law, this is the treatise on 
love, spoken by the Vyasa of unmeasured wisdom. There is 
no tale on earth unless it be derived from this poem, as there 
is no support of the body unless derived from food. On this 
poem the best poets exist, as the worshippers desiring success 
exist on the favour of Is' vara [S'iva].'' 

These statements are perfectly true. The whole legendary 
history of India is to be found in the Mahabharata. The very 
story of Rama, which is the subject of the second great epic, 
occurs with numberless other episodes in the third book.^^ The 
well-known poem of " Nala and Damayanti" is but an episode 
of the same book. Another is the " Bhagavadgita/' a long ex- 
position of the Yaga philosophy, in the sixth book.^^ j^ ^g jj^_ 

» i. 100. '» i. 646. »' 15873. ^^ 33q^ 

518 Indian Epic Poetry, 

troduced in the strangest possible manner. Arjuna, being ready- 
to figbt, is suddenly struck by the thought that his adversaries 
are his relations, and that therefore he ought to spare them. 
Krishna, his charioteer, takes this occasion to expound to him 
the doctrine of the eternity and unity of all spirits, their inde- 
structibility, and their identity and final absorption into the 
divine spirit, of which he (Krishna) declares himself the special 
incarnation. This philosophical disquisition takes place on the 
chariot, in view of the battle-field, where the armies are already 
in action. Arjuna, being satisfied at last that his enemies are 
as eternal and in substance the same as himself, then goes for- 
ward into the battle. Any thing more utterly at variance with 
probability and epic usages than this lecture, in the midst of 
the din of a battle, could scarcely be conceived ; whilst the 
subject-matter of the episode, however beautifully treated, is 
equally foreign to the genius of epic poetry. Nor is this an 
isolated case, for in the twelfth book w^e have three long didactic 
treatises in verse, — the " Raja-dharma, or duty of kings," the 
•• A'pad-dharma, or rules of conduct in misfortune,'' and the 
" Moksha-dharma, or rules for obtaining release from finite 

The Mahabharata may therefore fitly be described as a kind 
of encyclopaedia of mythology and philosophy, consisting of 
numberless poems, strung together by, and interwoven with, 
the story of a battle between the Kurus and Pandus. That 
such a production is to the highest degree artificial, and the 
work of the learned, in this case of the Brahmans, needs no proof. 

An equally remarkable characteristic of the Hindu epic is 
the use of a language different from that of the nation at large. 
The inscriptions of king As'oka, the object of which was the 
spread of Buddhism, were addressed to the people ; and from 
this fact, and from the circumstance that these inscriptions are 
not written in Sanskrit, but in different kinds of Pali (a lan- 
guage derived from Sanskrit in the same way as Italian is from 
Latin), we must conclude that in As'oka's time {i.e. 250 B.C.) 
Sanskrit w*as a dead language. Now it can easily be proved 
that both the Mahabharata and Ramayana are, in their present 
form at least, much younger than As'oka. This results from 
the mention in both of them of nations with which the Hindus 
could only have become acquainted long after Alexander (330). 
The Greeks themselves are frequently mentioned, under the 
name of Yavana. This word is derived from the Greek name 
of the lonians, "Iwi/e?, ^Id{f)ove<;, and was used at an early 
period throughout Western Asia as the name of the Hellenic 
nation (Hebrew Yavan^ old Persian Yauna). Tlie theory }>ro- 
pounded by Lassen, that it sometimes signifies other nations, 

Indian Epic Poetry, 519 

— Arabs, Chaldeans, &c. — seems to rest on no foundation A^hat- 
ever. A king of the Yavana is mentioned as taking part in 
the great assembly of princes that were suitors for the hand 
of the heroine of the Mahabharata;^^ and in the decisive battle 
there appears on the side of the Kurus king Sudakshina of 
Kamboja (a region in the Penjab), together with the Yavanas 
and S'akas.^* These and similar passages evidently prove that 
at the time when the leading story of the great epic — for they 
occur in the body of the poem, not in episodes only — received 
its present form, the Hindus were perfectly familiar with the 
name of the Greeks, and regarded them as sufficiently near to 
themselves to take part in feasts and battles occurring in India. 
Such a view could of course only arise after Alexander, when 
the Greek kings of Syria, Bactria, and the Penjab, made them- 
selves known and felt as powerful rulers. Lassen, indeed, as- 
sumes that some account of the heroic battles of Thermopylas, 
Salami's, and Plata3a, might have reached India ; but we must 
not forget that although to us, who look back upon and are 
conscious of their vast consequences, these events appear all- 
important, they would not present that appearance to the con- 
temporary Asiatic nations. A local defeat of the Persian arms, 
which left the Persian empire as a whole intact and pov/erful, 
is not likely to have spread the name and renown of a little 
tribe on the shores of the ^gean as far as India. We have, 
however, still more positive proof that the Yavanas mentioned 
by the Mahabharata are the successors of Alexander, in a pass- 
age of the first book :^^ "The prince ofSauvirawas killed by 
Arjuna. He whom even the mighty Pandu could not conquer, 
that king of the Yavanas was conquered by Arjuna. The 
prince of Sauvira, Vitula by name, very strong, and always 
defiant against the Kurus, was killed by the wise Partha 
[= Arjuna]. Arjuna overcame with his arroAVS the Sauvira 
prince. Sumitra, desirous of battle, known by the name Datta- 
mitra, accompanied by Bhimasena, and with one chariot Arjuna 
conquered ten thousand chariots and all the western tribes." 
From this passage it results that there is in the poet's mind an 
intimate connection between the Sauvira (a people near the 
Indus) and the Yavanas, if indeed, they are not absolutely the 
same. One prince of these united Sauvira- Yavanas is called 
Sumitra, otherwise Dattamitra, and has been identified by 
Lassen with the Greek king Demetrius of Bactria, whose reign 
began at about 200 b.c., and who afterwards made great con- 
quests in the Penjab. This conjecture is confirmed by the fact 
that the scholiast of Panini knows a locality Dattamitri (a), of 
which the inhabitants are called Dattamitriya ; and a Pali in- 

« i. 7020. '^ vi. 590. '^ 5534. 

520 Indian Epic Poetry, 

scription lately found calls these Datamitiyaka Yonaka,^^ — the 
Greeks of Dattamitra. Evidently Demetrius, like other Greek 
kings in Asia, founded a city called after himself He is not 
the only Greek king mentioned in the Mahabharata. In the 
second book^^ one of the heroes is told by Krishna : " The 
lord of the Yavanas who rules Muru [Marwar] and Naraka, a 
king of infinite strength, holding the west, like Varuna, he the 
powerful monarch Bhagadatta, is an old friend of thy father's." 
Bhagadatta, " given by Bhaga" (the sun), seems to be a transla- 
tion of 'A'TroW6hoTo<^, " given by Apollo," the name of one of 
the Greek Penjab kings about 160 b.c. It is clear that some 
time must have elapsed before these historical monarchs could 
become so mixed up with the ancient mythological tales of the 
Hindus. In one of the passages quoted above, the S'akas occur 
along with the Greeks as taking part in the great battle. They 
are frequently mentioned, and especially with the Tukharas or 
Tusharas, who fought beside them and the Greeks in the great 
battle.^^ They are the nomadic tribes called by the Greeks 
Sacae and Tocharge, who were originally the inhabitants of 
the plains beyond the laxartes, but who overran Iran about 
130 B.C., and afterwards also invaded the west of Hindostan. 
It is possible that the Hindus might have known these tribes 
when they still inhabited the northern plains ; but when they 
appear as taking part in the battle fought in the midst of 
India, the most natural supposition is that there had been 
wars between them and the Hindus, which could only have 
happened after 130 b.c. "We have most probably a trace of 
the Romans in the twelfth book,^y where S'iva causes a fear- 
ful being, called Virabhadra, to come forth out of his mouth. 
" Virabhadra sends forth from the pores of his body [roma- 
kupebhyo] the Baumyas, the lords of hosts. These hosts were 
like Rudra, terrible, of terrible strength.'' Ruma, indeed, is a 
district not far from Ajmer ; but it is not likely that the inha- 
bitants of this insignificant spot should be intended rather than 
the great conquerors of the west, whose country is otherwise 
known to the Hindus as Romaka.^^ In an episode of the Ma- 
habharata^^ we find even mentioned along with Yavanas and 
S'akas another nomadic tribe, the Hunas, evidently the white 
Huns, who in the course of the fifth century of our era devas- 
tated Persia and, it appears, also part of India. It is scarcely 
probable, though barely possible, that they should have come 
under the notice of the Hindus before that time, seeing that 
the Greeks and Romans, who were much better acquainted 

'6 See Weber, Indische Studten, v. 150. 

" V. 578. '8 ^i_ 3297. 19 10304. 

*° Journal of the Asiatic Society of Great Britain^ xx. p. 383. " i. 6685. 

hidian Epic Poetry » 521 

Avitli Turan than the Indians, never mention them. Be that, 
however, as it may, sufficient reasons have been adduced to 
prove that the Mahabharata, such as we have it, is considerably- 
younger than king As'oka (250), and therefore belongs to a 
period when Sanskrit had long ceased to be a spoken language. 

The same must be said of the Raihayana. The references, 
indeed, to foreign nations and recent events are more rare in it ; 
but this is easily explained by the fact that southern India was 
the scene of Rama's wars, so that there was less occasion to 
mention events happening on the outskirts. Nevertheless the 
Yavanas and S'akas appear in connection with each other 
(S'akan Yavanamis'ritan, "Y. mixed with S/'), as powerful 
nations ;*' and lest it should be objected that this passage 
stands in an episode, they appear again in the fourth book^^ 
and apparently in the immediate neighbourhood of India, if not 
in India; for they are placed between the Gandahra (Penjab) 
and the Odra (Orissa). That at least the Greeks would not be 
thus introduced before Alexander, we have shown above, and a 
confirmation is afibrded by the fact that the town Demetriea, 
founded by Demetrius of Bactria, is mentioned also,^* in the 
form Dandamitra, an evident corruption of the older form 
Dattamitra. These facts are sufficient to show that the Ramd- 
yana, like the Mahabharata, received its present form at a time 
when Sanskrit was extinct. 

To sum up our preceding remarks, we may say that the 
epics of India, though, on the one hand, they are not lacking in 
the warlike spirit so characteristic of this kind of poetry, are_, 
on the other hand, artificial creations, of immense bulk, of a 
strongly sacerdotal character, and written, in part at least, in 
a language no longer spoken by the nation. 

The question now presents itself: How is this state of mat- 
ters to be explained ; and what means have we of tracing the 
origin of these vast compositions to the simpler songs which, 
unless the analogy of all other epic poetry is entirely mislead- 
ing, must certainly have preceded them. 

In comparing the epic poems with the oldest monument of 
Indian literature, the Rigveda, we find great differences be- 
tween the tAvo. Already the language of the epics is much 
more modern, having exchanged many of the ancient words 

221.55,20. 23 44^13. 

2^ iv. 4320. Gorresio, following, it would appear, the majority of Mss., 
puts here in the text "strinam s'okavahan sthanan dattam Indrena xushyat^.," 
which he translates by " la sede dolente che Indra irato assegno alle donne ;" 
but in his note he confesses that he knows nothing further about this limbo of 
ladies. The reading of codex G, rejected by him, is evidently more ancient, 
'*the country of the women (Amazons), the country of the Pahlavas, Dand&,- 
mitra, and Arundhati ;" although we do not know what the latter word is to 
.mean here, as it generally signifies one of the lunar constellations. 

522 Indian Epic Poetry, 

for new ones ; it is poorer in forms, more regular, and although, 
upon the whole, simple enough, yet more polished than that of 
the ancient hymns. The Rigveda, except in the tenth book, 
does not yet seem to know the institution of castes, which is 
frequently mentioned in the epics, and gives them much of 
their peculiar colour and character. Most of the hymns ap- 
pear to have been composed in the Penjab, whereas in the 
Mahiibhrirata and Ramriyana the scene is the middle or even 
the south of India. The whole social state represented in the 
Rigveda is very simple ; and its warriors, *' desirous of cows," 
battling about them with each other, and invoking their gods 
to bestow them, present a strange contrast to the Brahmans 
and anchorites of the epics, fighting by words and curses ra- 
ther than weapons, engaged in superhuman efforts after holi- 
ness, and lost in the mazes of pantheistic speculation. It is 
true that instances of the peculiar Indian philosophy appear in 
the tenth book of the Rigsan'hitri ; but in general the religion 
of the hymns is very simple, a worship of the shining gods of 
heaven, of the bright fire, of the healing waters, — accompanied 
by a dread of the powers of darkness and evil. Of the three 
gods most commonly invoked in the hymns, one, Mitra, seems 
to be altogether forgotten in the epics ; and if Agni, the god 
of fire, and Indra, the thunderer, are still most zealously wor- 
shipped in the epic times, yet their character is in many re- 
spects altered, and a race of new gods has arisen above them. 
Brahmfi, "the grandfather of the world/' the creator, has grown 
from the Brahmanas-pati, "lord of prayer, '■' of the Rigveda, 
who does not occupy any very high position, into a universal 
power over all gods. Vishnu, of whom Krishna in the Mahabha- 
arata, and Rama in the Ramayana, are incarnations, is indeed 
mentioned several times in the hymns, but it is as a minor 
deity, while S'iva's name does not even occur. Yet in the epic 
these three dominate and are more powerful than Indra, who 
of old was the supreme chieftain of the gods. These and many 
other differences show that there is a wide gap between the 
Vedic times and the epics. 

Nevertheless, as might be expected, connecting links are 
not wanting. The Indian nation was, after all, the same people 
in both periods; and the traditions and facts of the Rigveda, 
although altered and even disfigured, frequently reappear in 
the epic. We will give a few instances of this. One of the 
most important points in the Vedic mythology is the combat of 
Indra, the god of thunder, with the demon Vritra (the con- 
cealer) or Ahi (the serpent, Lat. anguis). It is the subject of a 
magnificent hymn in the first book of the Rigveda (32) : — 
" I will praise the exploits of Indra, which the bearer of the 

Indian Epic Poetry, 52S 

thunderbolt achieved of old. He killed Ahi, he brought out the 
waters, he opened the quick torrents of the mountains. He 
killed Ahi that lay before the mountain ; Tvashtri (the divine 
artist) made for him his praiseworthy thunderbolt ; like lowing 
cows the waters ran quickly flowing towards the ocean. When 
thou, Indra, didst slay the first-born of the Ahis, then didst 
thou destroy verily the charms of the charmers, then bringing 
forth the sun, the sky, thou surely didst not meet an adversary. 
Indra killed the Vritra of Vitras, he broke his shoulders by the 
thunderbolt with a mighty blow; like stems broken by the 

hatchet, thus lies Ahi upon the ground As he lies there, 

like a river poured out, the delightful Avaters pass over him ; 
Ahi fell down at the feet of the waters which with might he 
had imprisoned. The mother of Vritra has fallen, Indra inflicted 
[the blow of] his weapon on her from below. Above was the 
mother ; beneath, the son ; the demon lies, as the cow with her 
calf," &c. Vritra is here represented as a demon withholding 
the rain from the earth, and thereby enveloping the sun and 
the sky in darkness, the mountains being apparently intended 
for the clouds. The killing of this demon is described as an 
old exploit of the god ; but at the same time it Avas only the 
" first-born of Ahis" that was thus killed. This circumstance, 
and the frequent use of the present tense, show that the poet 
was still quite conscious of the original meaning of the myth, and 
that in any thunderstorm passing before his own eyes he recog- 
nised the old battle fought over again. In the following episode 
from the Mahabharata, this consciousness is entirely lost, and 
the destruction of Vritra appears as a single isolated fact in 
Indra' s life. The tale is besides full of strange incidents, very 
different from the noble simplicity of the hymn just quoted. 
•' There were," it says,^^ " in the first age of the world fearful 
Danavas (Titans), longing for battle, Kalakeya by name, most 
terrible hosts. They, gathering round Vritra, uplifting many 
kinds of weapons, assailed from all sides the gods, and Indra 
their chief. Then the gods were bent on the destruction of 
Vritra, and with Indra at their head they went to Brahma. 
When the supreme lord saw them standing all with their hands 
folded, he spoke to them : I know, ye gods, what is your 
errand. I will give you a counsel, whereby ye shall kill 
Vritra. There is a great sage, by name Dadhicha, of noble dis- 
position. To him go ye all in a body and ask for a boon; he of 
virtuous mind will grant it with delighted soul. Him you 
must address all in a body, if you wish for victory : ' Grive us 
your bones for the welfare of three worlds.' He, laying down 
his body, will give you his bones.'^ This strange counsel is car- 

25 iii. 8660. 


524) Indian Epic Poetry. 

ried out. The gods find Dadhicha in lils retreat in the wood 
resounding with the humming of bees and the song of the 
cuckoo, where buffaloes, boars, and deer live, unscathed by the 
tigers. The sage, " shining brightly like the bringer of day,'' 
grants the request of the gods, dies of his own accord, and 
Tvashtri (Vulcan) makes of his bones the thunderbolt. *' Then 
Indra, holding the thunderbolt, protected by the strong gods, 
attacked Yritra, who stood covering heaven and earth, pro- 
tected on all sides by the Kalakeya of large body, with their 
arms uplifted, like unto mountains with their peaks. Then 
there arose a great combat of the gods with the demons at a 
moment striking the universe with fear. Of swords flashing, 
swung, and struck against each other by the arms of the heroes, 
there was a tumultuous sound as they fell upon the bodies ; and 
the earth was covered with heads falling from the sky, as with 
palm-fruits broken from their stalk. The Kaleyas, with golden 
armour, with clubs as weapons, poured down upon the gods 
like mountains the forests of which are on fire. As these 
powerful demons rushed onward in their arrogance, the gods 
could not withstand their strength, but overcome by fear they 
ran away. When the thousand-eyed destroyer of cities saw 
them flying, and Vritra gaining strength, he felt great anxiety. 
Por a time the god Indra was shaken by fear ; but quickly he 
addressed himself to Vishnu for protection. When the eternal 
Vishnu saw Indra filled with anxiety, he put his own strength 
into him, increasing his vigour. Thereupon the hosts of the 
gods, beholding Indra preserved by Vishnu, put all their own 
power into him, and so did the Brahma-sages. Indra restored 
by Vishnu, the gods and the blissful sages arose powerful. But 
Vritra, knowing that the lord of the gods stood before him 
in strength, sent forth loud roars, and by his roar the earth and 
the regions, and the air, and the sky, and the whole ether were 
shaken. Then the mighty Indra, in great confusion hearing his 
loud and fearful howl, overwhelmed with fear, cast his thun- 
derbolt to kill him. And struck by Indra's thunderbolt the 
great Titan, wearing a golden garland, fell as formerly Man- 
dara, the best of high mountains escaping from the hand of 
Vishnu. Thereupon, when the lord of Titans was killed, 
Indra full of fear ran on to hide himself in the sea ; through 
fear he did not think of his thunderbolt, which had slipped 
from his hand, nor of the dead Vritra. And all gods were 
glad, and all the sages in their joy praised Indra, and rapidly 
having approached the Titans, they killed them all, who were 
confused by the death of Vritra." 

The reader will observe in this epic version the prominent 
part borne by the pious sages and by Vishnu, the magical 

Indian Epic Poetry, 525 

power ascribed to religious devotion, and the absence of any 
indication that Vritra was originally a serpent. This combat of 
the god of thunder and celestial light with the dragon is one of 
the oldest mythological ideas of the Indo-germans. We find an 
echo of it in the Persian Shah-nahmeh, Avhere Feridun is said to 
have overcome Zohak [=Zend Aji ddhaka, destroying serpent, 
Ahi], on whose shoulders grew serpents, and to have confined 
him in the volcanic mountain Demavend. Here also the ad- 
versary has become a mere demon, his animal form being only 
hinted at. But the Greek hymn on Apollo still relates how the 
shining archer-god killed the terrible serpent Python ; and the 
Hy'miskvidha of the Edda represents the thunderer Thorr 
struggling with the great sea-snake that surrounds the habit- 
able earth like a girdle. One may almost assert that the latter 
two poems have remained more true to the spirit of the Vedic 
poem quoted above, though the names are altered and the scene 
shifted, than the epic poetry of the Hindus. There is more 
manly vigour, and less fantastic glamour in these two European 
songs. The Norwegian Thorr, rowing on the icebound northern 
ocean "at the end of the heavens," and by means of his angling 
hook, baited with the head of an ox, drawing up the snake from 
the abyss of the sea, and lustily beating its skull with his ham- 
mer- — this northern god is the brother of the Vedic Indra far 
more truly than the epic namesake of the latter. 

The killing of the demon-serpent belongs to the divine 
mythology of the Indo-germanic races. But we know full well 
that there must also have been heroic tales anterior to their 
separation into individual nations. One of the oldest of these 
is the tradition of Manu or Manus, i.e. "the man" (lit. "the 
thinker"), the mythical ancestor of the human race. He was 
known to the ancient Germani under the form Manna.^^ In the 
Vedic hymns he is called Father Manu, and represented as the 
ancestor of the Hindus, and even of the whole human race,27 
as the kindler of the sacrificial fire, and as the ordainer of holy 
rites. In the later Vedic times, represented to us by the ritual 
compositions in prose v/hich are called Brahmanas, Manu has 
become connected with the story of the deluge, which is not 
mentioned in the hymns, and which is, perhaps, not indigenous 
in India. The story is thus told in the S'ata-patha-brahmana r^^ 
" To Manu they brought in the morning water to wash. As 
they bring it with their hands for the washing, a fish comes 
into the hands of Manu as soon as he has washed himself He 
spoke to Manu the word, ' Keep me ; I shall preserve thee.' 

*^ Tacitus, Germ. c. i. Tacitus of course latinises the name to Mannus. 
^ See an article on Manu by Dr. J. Muir, in the Journal of the Boyal 
Asiatic Society, xx. pp. 406 sqq. ^^ i. 8, 1. 1. 

526 Indian Epic Poetry, 

Manu said, ' From what wilt thou preserve me ?' The fish said, 

* The flood will carry away all these creatures. I shall preserve 
thee from it/ * How canst thou be kept V said Manu. The 
fish replied, ' As long as we are small, there is much destruction 
for us ; fish swallows fish. First, then, thou must keep me in 
a jar. If I outgrow it, dig a hole, and keep me in it. If I 
outgrow this, take me to the sea, and I shall be saved from 
destruction.' He soon became a large fish. He said to Mimu, 

* When I am full-grown, in the same year the flood will come. 
Build a ship then, and worship me ; and when the flood rises, 
go into the ship, and I shall preserve thee from it.' Manu 
brought the fish to the sea, after he had preserved him thus. 
And in the year which the fish had pointed out, Manu had 
built a ship, and worshipped the fish. Then when the flood 
had risen, he went into the ship. The fish came swimming to 
him, and Manu fastened the rope of the ship to a horn of the 
fish. The fish carried him by it over the northern mountain. 
The fish said, ^ I have preserved thee. Bind the ship to a tree. 
May the water not cut thee asunder while thou art on the 
mountain. As the water will sink, thou wilt slide down.' 
Manu slid down with the water; and this is called the slope of 
Manu on the northern mountain. The flood had carried away 
all these creatures, and thus Manu was left there alone. He 
went along meditating a hymn, and wishing for ofi'spring. And 
he sacrificed there also. Taking clarified butter, coagulated 
milk, whey and curds, he made an ofi'ering to the waters. In a 
year a woman was brought forth from it. . . .She went ofi", and 
came to Manu. Manu said to her, ' Who art thou V She said, 
' I am thy daughter.' . . . Manu went along with her, meditating 
a hymn, and wishing for ofi'spring ; and by her he begat this 
offspring which is called the offspring of Manu."-^ 

This is sufl[iciently strange, and one sees indeed, at a glance, 
that so fantastical a story is later than the time oif the hymns. 
Nevertheless it is sober prose if compared with the account in the 
Mahabharata."'^ The episode of the fish (Matsyopkhjanam, as it 
is called) begins by stating how Manu practised severe austeri- 
ties for ten thousand years, uplifting his arms, standing on one 
foot, his head hanging downward, and his eyes always open. 
He then goes to the banks of the river Virini, and a small fish 
there implores him to save it from large rapacious ones. Manu, 
in compliance with this request, puts it into an urn. But it 
soon begins to grow. Manu, on its request, puts it into a great 
lake; then, as it still increases in bulk, into the Ganga; and as 
even this becomes too narrow for it, Manu ultimately carries it 

=5 See Professor Max Miiller's History of Sanskrit Literature, p. 425. 
» iii. 12748. 

Indian Ejrlc Poetry, 527 

oiF to the sea. The text assures us that during all this time 
•■' the fish, though very great, could be lifted according to will 
by ^[anu, who, as he carried it, was enjoying the pleasures of 
its touch and smell." The fish then tells him that a general 
deluge is at hand^ and advises him to build a ship, to put all 
the seeds of living beings in it, and go upon it himself with the 
seven (mythical) sages. Manu follows this advice ; and when 
swimming in his ship on the flood, he begins to think of the 
fish, which consequently appears with a horn upon its head, 
round which Manu fastens a rope. " And bound by this rope 
the fish dragged onward the ship in the water with mighty 
strength, carrying them over the ocean, as it were, with its 
waves dancing and its waters roaring. The ship, tossed about 
by the mighty winds on the main, shook like a drunken woman ; 
ndther earth nor the regions were visible ; all was water, air, 
and sky.'' After " many hosts of years" the fish brings them 
to the highest peak of the Himalaya, to which the ship is 
fastened, and which therefore is called !N^au-bandhana [i. e. 
binding of the ship). The fish then reveals his true nature. 
" ' I am the lord of the creatures, than whom there is no higher 
one. In the form of a fish you are delivered by me from this 
danger. And Manu miist C7'eate all beings together, gods, 
demons, and men, and all the luorlds, the moveable and the im- 
moveahle. And through severe 'penance shall he have confidence; 
by my favour he shall not be confused in the creating of beings.' 
Having thus spoken, the fish disappeared in a moment." This 
supremely wonderful transaction is fitly concluded by Manu, 
after he has gained the necessary power through his self-casti- 
gation, creating (not, as Europeans would expect, and as the 
older tale has it, engendering) all creatures. 

The two preceding examples of Vedic stories turned into epic 
ones belong to mythology; but also historical personages, men- 
tioned in the Vedic hymns, have been transformed into heroes of 
epic legend. One of the most remarkable instances of this kind 
is furnished by Vis'vamitra and Vasishta. Professor Eoth has 
proved,^^ from the hymns that have reference to them, that 
Vis'vamitra was at one time the purohita or family priest of 
king Sudas, a mighty ruler near the Yamuna ; that in all pro- 
bability Vis'vamitra was driven from this position by Vasishta 
and Vasishta's family; and that afterwards Sudas, aided by the 
prayer of the Vasishtas, gained a great victory over ten united 
tribes in the Penjab, amongst which were the Bharata, the tribe 
of Vis'vamitra. There is nothing extraordinary in a king's ex- 
changing one chaplain for another ; and only the great power 
and renown of the two priests and their respective families can 

3' In his essay Zur Litteratur und Gcschichte der Vedas, p. 87. 

52S Indian Epic Poetry. 

have pven this quarrel any particular significance. It seems 
that Vis'vamitra, having fallen into disfavour with the king, 
caused his tribe to take part in the war against Sudas. When, 
however, the Bharatas came to the river Hyphasis (Vipas'), they 
had some difficulty in crossing it. On this occasion Vis'vami- 
tra composed the following hymn, one of the most beautiful 
specimens of Yedic poetry :^- " From out the slopes of the 
mountains, full of longing, like two mares set free, vying with 
each other in the race, like two shining cows to the fondling 
of their young ones, thus run Vipas' and S'utrudri with their 
waters. Sent by Indra, fulfilling his order (?), ye go towards 
the ocean, like warriors on their chariot, uniting your waves 
together, swelling, one meeting the other, ye clear streams. I 
have come to my maternal river, to the broad, blissful Vipas' ; 
we have come to both the streams that go to their common ^oal 
like cows licking their calves. ' With our swelling waters we 
go to the place appointed by the gods. Our purpose of flowing 
is never changed. What does the sage desire who so fervently 
invokes the rivers?' 'Rejoice at my friendly voice, ye streams, 
[pause] for a moment in your courses. To the river I pray, 
Kaus'ika's son, seeking help, with great fervour.^ ' Indra has 
dug our beds, armed with the thunderbolt ; he killed Vritra, 
who had gathered up the streams. Savitri, the god with beau- 
tiful hands, led us forward ; by his command we go in broad 
channels. For ever praiseworthy is this heroic deed of Indra, 
that he slew Ahi. Those that surrounded the floods he slew 
them with the thunderbolt ; then flowed the waters, desirous 
of flowing. Do not, poet, forget this word, whatsoever later 
times may tell thee ; be friendly, bard, to us in thy songs ; 
do not slander us. Amongst men be praise to thee.' ' Listen, 
ye two sisters, to the poet ; he has come from afar with his 
chariot. Lower yourselves well ; become easy to cross ; re- 
main beneath the axletree with your floods.' ' We will listen, 
poet, to thy words. From afar hast thou come with thy 
chariot. I shall bend down for thee, as a suckling woman [to 
the child] ; I shall embrace thee as a maiden the man.' ' When 
the Bharatas shall have crossed, the host ready for battle, 
hastening, moved by Indra, then your ordered course may 
flow onward. I choose your favour [or praise?], who are worthy 
of sacrifices. The warlike Bharatas crossed over ; the sage en- 
joyed the favour of the streams. May ye swell, giving food 
and riches ; fill your beds ; go quickly." 

We have given this hymn nearly in its entirety, not because 
it throws any additional light on the subject of the enmity 
between Vis'vdmitra and Vasishta, but because its beautiful 

3= Rigveda, iii. 3, 4. 

Indian Epic Poetry, 529 

simplicity oiFers a strong contrast to tlie fantastic legends of 
the epos. The quarrel of the two sages forms the subject of a 
renowned episode in the Ramayana.^^ King VisVamitra, who 
is here represented as belonging to the warrior caste, having 
reigned ten thousand years, came once upon a time to the her- 
mitage of the lioly Brahman Vasishta. This latter possessed 
a wonderful cow, Kamaduh {i. e. milking the wishes), or S'abala 
(variegated) ; and to honour his royal guest, he ordered her to 
bring forth superabundance of good cheer. Accordingly the cow 
produces " sugar-canes, honeycombs, fried grains, and the good 
liquor of the lythrum, excellent drinks, and manifold viands, 
mountain-like heaps of things to be sucked and to be eaten, 
choice food, cakes, and streams of milk, vessels full of mani- 
fold sweet and well-tasting liquors here and there, and spirits 
of molasses of a thousand kinds. The whole army of Vis'va- 
mitra was highly pleased, the men delighted and satiated, 
having been entertained by Vasishta/' Yis'vamitra evinces a 
natural wish to possess so wonderful a treasure ; but the sage 
refuses to part with it, even though Yis'vamitra promises him 
in return a koti (10,000,000) of cows. Hereupon the king 
takes the cow by force. She, however, makes her way back to 
her master, and advises him to make use of her miraculous 
powers for his and her protection. On his command she by 
degrees brings forth Pahlavas, S'akas, Yavanas, and other 
powerful hosts, which destroy Yis'vamitra's army and his sons. 
Yis vamitra thereupon practises a course of austerities, until 
S'iva appears to him and grants him the weapons of gods and 
demons. By these he destroys Yasishta's hermitage ; but fur- 
ther mischief is prevented by Yasishta, who overcomes all his 
enemy's missiles by only using his staif. Yis'vamitra there- 
upon comes to the conclusion that the power of a Kshattriya 
is nothing in comparison with that of a Brahman, and con- 
sequently begins a new course of penance, through which he 
ultimately succeeds in obtaining the quality of a Brahman, 
Brahma himself with all the gods descending to announce to 
him his new dignity. Of the many incidents in Yis'vamitra's 
long self-castigation we shall only mention one, on account of 
its passing strangeness. King Tris'anku having taken it into 
his head that he would rise with his body alive to heaven, asks 
Yasishta to help him in the offerings necessary for this pur- 
pose. Yasishta refuses, and so do Yasishta's sons, who even 
by their curse turn Tris'anku into a Paria. The king thus 
baffled applies to Yis'vamitra, who receives him kindly, and 
forthwith begins a sacrifice for him. But the gods do not 
make their appearance at it. So Yis'vamitra, in his anger, 
** i. 52, 13. AVe quote, in general, Gorresio's edition. 

530 Indian Epic Poetry. 

" swinging the sacrificial ladle, spoke to Tris'anku, ' Behold, 
king of men, the power of my penance. I here will carry 
thee to heaven quickly with thy own body. Tris'anku, 
go to the sky with thy own body, lord of men. By the power 
of all the penance stored up by me since childhood, by the 
power of that penance, go thou to the sky with thy body/ 
When this word had been spoken by the hermit, that king 
with his body rose up into the air and to the heaven before 
the eyes of the hermits. When the slayer of Paka (Indra) saw 
Tris'anku entering heaven, he spoke with all the hosts of the 
gods this word : ' Tris'anku, fall on the ground ; there is no 
place for thee in heaven, thou hast been struck by the curse 
of thy preceptor [meaning Vasishta] ; fall Avith thy head 
downwards/ Thus addressed by the great Indra, Tris'anku 
fell from the sky, and he cried, with his head downward to- 
wards Yis'vamitra, ' Help me.' Having heard this word of him, 
falling from the sky, Vis'vamitra, in high anger, spoke, ' Stay, 
stay/ Then, by the power of his Brahma-penance, like unto 
a second creator, he created in the south another group of 
seven sages [this is the Sanskrit name for the Great Bear], 
and another row of lunar constellations [twenty -eight in 
number, — a kind of lunar zodiac], he began to create in the 
southern region of the heavens by the confidence in the power 
of his Brahma-penance. And having created the host of lunar 
constellations, with his eyes flaming with anger, he began to 
create new gods with a (new) Indra as their chief." Naturally 
enough, the gods — only the lower ones, or devas, are here 
meant — are frightened at this prospect. They come to terms 
therefore with Vis'vfimitra ; he is to give up his design, but 
what he has achieved is to remain unaltered. " These stars 
shall stand outside the way of the sun ;^* and this Tris'anku 
shall stand with his head downward contented in the southern 
sky, shining in his own splendour." There is clearly some 
astronomical fact alluded to in this story, which goes a little 
to mitigate its extravagance ; but what a vast diiference be- 
tween the Vis'vamitra of the legends and the poet of the 
Rigveda ! 

We have adduced sufficient examples to enable our readers 
to see, on the one hand, the connection between the oldest 
Indian literature and the epics, and, on the other hand, the 
vast distance which separates them. To sum up, the ultimate 
origin of the epics is to be sought in oral traditions, some of 
them dating from times when*the Indo-germanic nations had not 
yet separated, others from the time of the hymns ; to these were 

^ The word ai/ogdni, which follows, is obscure. Gorresio translates, " CBsenti 
da congiunzione coUa luna." Schlegel's recension has anekani, •• several." 

Indian Epic Poetry. 531 

added, no doubt, many memories of the centuries that must 
have elapsed from the composition of the hymns to Alexander 
and As'oka, — centuries of which, for us, the later Vedic writings 
are the representatives. Lastly, even the exploits of the Greeks 
and other western nations have added a little, though very 
little indeed, to the epic stores. But the first trace of epic 
tales existing as an acknowledged form of literature, we find in 
the 15th book of the Atharvaveda, which, however, bears more 
the character of a Brahmana.*^^ There we hear of certain com- 
positions, called Itihasa (story, etymologically iti ha ctsa "thus 
it was"), Purana (old legends), Gatha (song), Naras'ansi (praise 
of men). The same names are frequently mentioned in the 
Brail m an as'^^ and Aranyakas. Epic tales are evidently in- 
tended by the two first words in these passages, as the Ma- 
habharata^^ applies both expressions to itself. Yet the ancient 
Itihasas were no doubt tales in prose, like the story of Manu, 
quoted before. On the nature of the two other kinds of com- 
position light is thrown by an interesting passage in the S'ata- 
patha-brahmana.^^ At the preparation of the great horse sacri- 
fice, '• lute-players are assembled. Then the Adhvary v [priest] 
addresses them : * Lute-players, praise ye him who sacrifices, 
together with the old pious kings.^ They do thus. — A lute- 
player belonging to the warrior-caste [rajanya], turning to the 
south, sings three strophes [gdtha] made by himself, the con- 
tents of which are, ' he fought,' ' he won that battle.' " This 
passage shows that amongst the warrior-caste there arose, at 
an early period, the habit of composing short songs in praise 
of pious and gallant princes, both of olden times and of their 
own. These gathas were metrical, whilst the itihasas were in 
prose. From the fusion of these two kinds of literature, we 
apprehend, arose epic ballads properly so called, in verse, like 
the short gathas, but more extensive, like the itihasas. The 
subject-matter Avas taken, as shown before, partly from old 
religious traditions, partly from the exploits of later heroes 
and kings. The origin of the more warlike songs is undoubt- 
edly to be sought amongst the Kshattriya caste, as the passage 
from the S'ata-patha-brahmana testifies ; and that this caste 
continued for a long time to determine to a great extent the 
development of epic literature, is evident from the heroic en- 
thusiasm that is clearly perceivable in the battle-scenes of the 
Mahabharata. But, of course, the Brahmans must soon have 
taken part also in this new kind of literature, which they 

3' Atharv. xv. 6, 

3« For instance, S'ata-patha-br^hmana, xi. 5, 6, 9 : compare Miiller, Ancient 
Sanskrit Literature, p. 40. 

3^ i. 17, 19. 38 xiii. 4, 3, 3. 5. 

VOL. IV. n n 

532 Indian Epic Poetry. 

ultimately succeeded in colouring so deeply with their own 
particular views. The name for a bard who recites epic tales 
is sitta, which at the same time means charioteer. The suta is 
described as the son of a woman of the priestly caste and of 
a Kshattriya father. Here we see clearly the intimate con- 
nection of the epic poetry with war ; and, on the other hand, 
the double influence that has been at work in the creation of 
the old ballads. The Mahabharata is said to be composed by 
the sage Vyasa, son of a Kshattriya woman ; it is first recited 
by the Brahman Vais'ampayana, before the king Janamejaya, 
when he is engaged in a great sacrifice of serpents. It is 
recited a second time before an assembly of Brahma-sages at 
a sacrifice in the forest Nemisha. The bard on this occasion 
is Ugras'ravas, who is styled Sauta, that is, descendant of Suta, 
a name for minstrel, as we said before. In the third book of 
the Mahabharata, Markandeya and other Brahmans visit the 
banished Pandu kings in their forest retreat, and tell them the 
tales of old. The Ramayana also was first made by the rishi 
Valmiki ; he then teaches it to two of his disciples, Kus'a and 
Lava, the sons of Rama, and therefore Kshattriyas, whose 
united name (Kus'i-lava) signifies bard ; and these go and sing 
it in the royal capitals before the kings, and also before Rama 
himself at his horse-sacrifice. From all these testimonies, 
mythical though they are, we conclude that epic poetry con- 
tinued to be chiefly cultivated amongst the warrior caste; that 
it celebrated, by preference, the heroes of that caste ; that 
many, probably most, of the poets and minstrels belonged to 
the Kshattriyas, or were allied by birth to them ; and that 
the songs were recited (not read) in their assemblies. We lay 
great stress on the last point. All testimonies, from the Brah- 
manas downwards, are unanimous in representing the epic 
songs as handed down by oral tradition. Hence, we may natu- 
rally infer that they were originally short. When and by 
whom greater poems were first indited, we have now no means 
of ascertaining. But the flourishing time of the epos must 
have been a period when Sanskrit was still spoken. For be- 
sides the analogy with other nations, which forces us to deny 
the possibility of any original epic poetry ever arising in a 
dead language, the forms of the Mahabharata and Ramdyana 
are very simple, if compared with the later medieval artificial 
Sanskrit, and show all the vigour, power, and flexibility which 
characterise a living speech. 

In the history of the epic, special importance must be 
attached to the country Magadha (South Behar), for Mdgadha, 
literally a man from that region^ has come to mean minstrel. 
Magadha was, in Alexander's time, and for a century after- 


Indian Epic Poetry. .533 

"wards, tlie most powerful kingdom of India ; and if the Bud- 
dhistic traditions are trustworthy, it had been so for more 
than two hundred years before. The kings of this realm were 
very favourable to Buddhism ; and within its precincts the 
great missionary movement arose in the third century B.C. It 
seems that we must add to this merit the one of having pro- 
duced numerous epic poets. We shall not be very far wrong in 
assuming that epic poetry reached its highest development there 
in the fifth and fourth century, or perhaps earlier, certainly 
not later, because Sanskrit was already extinct in the third 
century, and that there were composed the spirited ballads on 
the battle of the Kurus and Pandus, which lie at the bottom 
of the Mahabharata. Perhaps at that time larger works may 
already have been attempted. But the arrangement of the 
whole mass of floating song in the shape of one bulky written 
poem, and the thorough recasting of the whole in accordance 
with the Brahmanical spirit, must be later still. Nor has even 
this been done at once. For the Mahabharata itself states 
that it has three different beginnings,"^^ in which Lassen 
rightly recognises three different recensions, probably following 
one another. The Indians have personified this last stage of 
development in the person of Vyasa, the mythical author of 
the Mahabharata. Vyasa is properly only a surname of Krishna 
Dvaipayana, and means "collector, redactor.'' We have already 
shown that additions continued to be made to the Mahabha- 
rata in the spirit of the ancient songs during the time of the 
Greek Penjab kings, and down to the fifth century a.d., but 
probably even later. For Weber states that an episode of the 
Mahabharata, on which S'ankara wrote a commentary in the se- 
venth century, had increased by six or seven stanzas up to the 
time of Nilakantha, that is, in six or seven centuries. As so many 
strata have covered, and no doubt partly destroyed, the original 
layer, it would be folly to attempt to cut out of the Maha- 
bharata the original small ballads, after Lachmann's fashion ; 
and even- Lassen's attempt to go back at least to the first of 
the three versions is not likely to be successful. 

The Ramayana is a more compact poem. There are fewer epis- 
odes ; and as the two recensions which we have, — one from the 
north-west of India, the other from Bengal, — agree upon the 
whole, it is not unlikely that we have in it, with few altera- 
tions, the work of one man, who undertook to treat the story 
of Rama in the spirit of the ancient epic, which he must have 
known by study, as Panyasis or Callimachus studied and imi- 
tated Homer. The only difiiculty in this hypothesis is the 
power and originality displayed in the Ramayana, which seems 

33 i. 51, 52, 

534 Indian Epic Poetry. 

too great for a mere learned poet. But perhaps these may be 
due to antecedent popular songs, which were only recast ; in 
which case, indeed, the so-called author would be also a kind 
of reviser. 

Having now, as far as our scanty materials allow, ascer- 
tained the growth of the Indian epic, we proceed to give our 
readers a sketch of the leading stories in both the great 

The Mahabharata, or Great Bharata, is most probably called 
so as recording the exploits of the race of Bharata, a mythical 
king, descended from Soma (the Moon). The ninth from him 
was Kuru, after whom the heroes of the Mahabharata, being his 
descendants, are called Kauravas or Kurus. Later in the line 
we find Vichitra-virya, who, however, dies childless, and leaves 
two widows, Ambika and Ambalika. By the sage Yyjisa, the 
mythical author of the Mahabharata, each of these has a son, 
Dhrita-rashtra {i. e. holder of the kingdom), who was born blind, 
and Pandu, so called on account of his pale complexion. They 
were brought up by their uncle Bhishma, in Hastinapura (near 
Delhi) ; and eventually Pandu became king, his elder brother 
being excluded on account of his blindness. Both took wives, 
Dhrita-rashtra choosing Gandhari, and Pandu being chosen at 
a svayam-vara"^^ by Pritha or Kunti. Pritha, before her mar- 
riage, had a son by the sun-god, who was born with a mail-coat. 
His mother being afraid of her relatives, although the sun-god 
had miraculously restored her maidenhood, exposed the child 
in the river, and he was found by a charioteer, Adiratha, who 
reared him as his own son. When Vasushena, as he was called 
by his foster parents, had grown up, the god Indra one day ap- 
peared to him in the shape of a Brahman, and asked him for 
his armour, which the pious hero gave away. Indra in return 
gave him strength over gods, men, and demons, and changed 
his name to Kama. Kama's story has some points in common 
with the Teutonic hero Sigfrid, who also, at least according to 
Viltina saga, was abandoned by his mother in the river, and 
like him was invulnerable, and after a life of heroism died an 
untimely death. Pandu afterwards took a second wife, Madri. 
Dhrita-rashtra had a hundred sons by Gandhari, of whom Dur- 
yodhana {i.e. bad in fight) was the eldest. Pandu, who had 
retired into the woods, leaving the throne to his blind brother, 
one day shot a pair of deer, male and female, which turned out 

<" Cf. the analysis of them -which is given by Professor Monier Williams 
in his book on Indian Epic Poetry, p. 91. 

^' A form of marriage in use amongst the Kshattriyas, according to which 
the reigning king convenes a large assembly of kings, and his daughter then 
chooses from amongst them at her own will. 

Indian Epic Poetry. 5S5 

to be a certain sage and liis wife, who had only taken the form 
of these animals. The sage cursed him, and predicted that he 
would die in the embraces of one of his wives. He conse- 
quently became a hermit, and kept apart from his two Avives. 
They, however, had sons by different gods. Pritha bore Yu- 
dishthira, whose father was Dharma. Dharma means law, and 
is another name of Yama, the Hindu Pluto. Accordingly the 
child became a highly virtuous prince, firm in battle, as his 
name implies, and at the same time not less pious, altogether 
realising the Hindu ideal of a chivalrous and dutiful king. 
Bhima, the second son of Pritha, Avas the child of the god Vayu 
(wind). He was of prodigious strength — when he fell acciden- 
tally as a child, he split a rock to pieces — and of savage bravery, 
doing justice to his name, which means terrible. Pritha's third 
son, by Indra, was Arjuna {i.e. white, shining). He is the chief 
hero of the Mahabharata, and is always under the special pro- 
tection of his divine father, whose wars against the demons he 
occasionally carries on instead of his parent. Madri had twins 
by the two As'vins (Dioscuri). They were called Nakula and 
Sahadeva, and were both great heroes. These five Pandus (Pan- 
davas), or sons of Pandu, as they are called oddly enough, are 
represented as thoroughly noble, whereas Dhrita-nishtra's sons, 
commonly called Kurus or Kauravas, although that name is 
applied also to Pandu's offspring, are described as mean and 
low-minded. Pcindu died while the five heroes were still chil- 
dren, having forgotten the curse laid upon him and embraced 
Pritha. With him Madri burned herself, as a faithful Hindu 
wife ought, and Pritha, who had disputed her this honour, 
returned with the five princes to Hastinapura. They were 
educated together Avith Dhrita-rashtra's children, and instructed 
in archery and Avarlike exercises by the Brahman Drona. When 
their education Avas completed, a great tournament Avas held, 
in order to try their skill, and Arjuna came off victorious, Avhen 
suddenly Kama entered " like a Avalking mountain." He 
challenged Arjuna to single combat, but, as the combatants 
Avere obliged to tell their names and pedigrees, Kama's face 
became "like a drooping lotus,^' and the fight did not take 
place. But Duryodhana, by making Kama king of Anga on the 
spot, engaged his good services for ever on his side against the 
Pandus. After various deeds of heroism by the five brothers, 
Yudishthira Avas installed by Dhrita-rashtra as heir-apparent ; 
and in consequence of the increased renoAvn of the Pandavas 
it came to pass that .the citizens of Hastinapura assembled and 
proposed to croAvn Yudishthira at once. Thereupon Duryo- 
dhana laid a plot against the life of his adversaries. He caused 
his father to send them aAvay on an excursion from the capital. 

536 Indian Epic Poetry, 

Meanwhile he sent a friend of his before them, to prepare a 
house for their reception, which he was to fill with hemp, resin, 
and other combustible materials, plastering the walls with 
mortar composed of oil, fat, and lac. This was to be set on fire, 
when the Pandavas would be asleep in it. In consequence of 
a Avarning, however, they escaped by an underground passage, 
having substituted for themselves a Pariah woman with her 
five sons ; and the house having been set on fire, they were ac- 
cordingly supposed to have perished in the flames. For a time 
they lived with a Brahman, putting on the disguise of men- 
dicant Brahmans. 

Not long after, Draupadf or Krishna, the daughter of Dru- 
pada, king of the Panchalas, was about to hold her svayam- 
vara. She had been in a former life the daughter of a sage, 
and had performed severe penance in order to obtain a hus- 
band. The god S'iva, in consequence, appeared to her and 
promised her five husbands in an after-existence. She was 
thereupon born in Drupada's family, and destined to be the 
wife of the five Pandavas. The princes accordingly set out 
for Drupada's court. The king, who secretly wished to have 
Arjuna for his son-in-law, had devised a trial of strength for 
the wooers of his daughter, similar to the test adopted by 
Penelope. It consisted in hanging up on a moveable machine 
a mark, which was to be hit by a bow very difficult to bend. 
A kind of stage or arena was prepared for the competitors ; 
and, after due offerings by the royal purohita (chaplain), 
Draupadi was led forward by her brother Drishta-dyumna, 
who announced the object of the meeting " with a voice like a 
thunder-cloud.^' The effect of the sight of Draupadi seems to 
have been very marvellous."*^ '* Those youthful kings, adorned 
with earrings, vying with each other, sprang up, all of them, 
weapons in hand, contemplating in their mind arms and 
strength, having their pride kindled by their beauty, heroism, 
nobility, virtue, wealth, and youth, like princes of elephants 
from the Himalaya maddened by the power of passion. Look- 
ing towards each other with eager envy, having their limbs 
penetrated by desire, crying towards each other, ' Krishna is 
my oAvn !' they rose up suddenly from their seats. Those 
Kshattriyas going to the stage, having assembled through the 
wish of winning Draupadi, shone like the hosts of the gods 
surrounding Uma, the daughter of the king of mountains'' 
[S'iva's wife]. " Having their bodies afflicted by the arrows of 
Cupid, with their hearts drawn towards Krishnd, those lords 
of men, descending into the arena, proclaimed enmity, even 
(friends) towards friends, for the sake of Drupada's daughter. 

■^ Mah. i. 7005. 

Indian Epic Poetry. 537 

Then came on their chariots the hosts of the gods, — Rudra 
their chief {i.e. S'iva), Indra, and the Dioscuri, and all the 
genii, and the winds, led by Yama and the Lord of riches, 
the Titans, the griffins,^^ the mighty serpents, and the elves 
and fairies." Many of the kings tried the bow, but were 
unsuccessful, being drawn down on their knees by its weight. 
At last Arjuna, still disguised as a Brahman, came forward, 
and stood^^ " beside the bow like a mountain not to be 
shaken." Having mentally invoked his divine father, Arjuna 
seized the bow, and " in the twinkling of an eye he had bent 
it, taken five arrows, and hit the mark, which, being well 
pierced, fell suddenly on the ground. Then there was a sound 
in the sky and a great noise in the assembly, and the god 
rained divine flowers on the head of Arjuna, the killer of 
enemies.'' Draupadi and her father joyfully accepted Arjuna, 
and were ultimately persuaded to have her married to all the 
five brothers, when Yyasa had acquainted them with Drau- 
padi's divine destination. The Pandavas having now revealed 
themselves, and become strengthened by their union with the 
king of Panchala, were received favourably by Dhrita-rashtra, 
who gave Hastinapura to his own sons, but allowed the five 
brothers to occupy a district near the Yamuna, where they 
built Indraprastha (near Delhi). Some time after, Arjuna, in 
liis wanderings, met with Krishna, a prince of the Yadu race, 
who always remained the truest friend and counsellor of the 
brothers. This was no small gain to them, as Krishna was an 
incarnation of Vishnu himself ^^ Arjuna marries also Krish- 
na's sister Subhadra, by whom he has a son, Abhimanyu, 
father of Parikshit, and grandfather of the Janamejaya, at 
whose great sacrifice the Mahabharata professes to have been 
first recited. After various exploits, Yudishthira wished to cele- 
brate his inauguration as king. But Krishna informed him that 
he could only do so when Jarasandha, king of Magadha, should be 
destroyed. This was a powerful monster, who held '*all kings''' 
in prison in his capital,^^ as "a lion, the king of the mountain,, 
keeps mighty elephants in his lair.'' However, he was ultimately 
conquered by Bhima. But the fight was terrible^^ " Jara- 
sandha, the conqueror of foes, advanced towards Bhima, mighty 
in splendour as the Titan Bala towards Indra. Then being 

^ This is a free translation oi garuda, which signifies certain mythical birds. 

44 i. 7049. 

45 Professor Lassen thinks, however, that all passages in the Mahabharata 
implying Krishna's divinity, as well as the divinity of the hero of the Ramay^na, 
are in both poems later additions and do not belong to the original plan. That 
may be ; but, as we have already seen, we cannot hope to recover the original 
form of the Mah-^bharata. 

46 Mah^b. ii. 627. 47 897. 

538 Indian Epic Poetry, 


protected by Krishna, having pronounced spells over him. the 
strong Bhimasena went onward to Jarasandha, longing for the 
fight ; and the two tigers of men with many weapons met 
each other, the strong heroes, in highest joy, desirous of con- 
quering each other. Pressing their hands together, yelling 
like elephants, thundering like clouds, both wielding many 
weapons, struck by each other's palms, face to face, like two 
enraged lions, they fought, dragging each other about. ... To 
see their fight, the citizens assembled — Brahmans, merchants, 
and warriors, in thousands, S'udras, women, and aged men 
altogether; the place was densely covered by crowds of men. 
As they met each other, striking with their arms, disen- 
tangling and again entangling them, their shock against each 
other was very fearful, as of two mountainlike thunderbolts. 
Both were fully rejoicing in their strength, the best of strong 
heroes, wishing each other's destruction, desirous of conquer- 
ing one another. This fearful combat disturbed and confused 
men, in the battle of these two strong ones, as of Vritra and 
Yasava. They dragged each other to and fro, backward and 
aside, and they hit each other with their knees. Then chid- 
ing one another with loud noise, they struck blows like the 
falling of rocks ; both broad-chested, having long arms, both 
skilled in pugilism, they fell upon each other with their arms, 
as with iron clubs. It was begun on the first day of the 
month Kartika, and lasted night and day, without their eat- 
ing food, without stopping. But on the fourteenth night the 
king of Maghada stopped through weariness." After a pause 
the fight was renewed, and Bhima broke the back of his ad- 
versary ; and "as he was trampled down, and the son of 
Pandu was roaring, the sound became tumultuous, causing 
fear to all living beings. All inhabitants of Magadha trembled 
through the noise of Bhimasena and Jarasandha. ' Is the 
Himalaya split ? is the earth torn asunder V Thus the people 
of Magadha thought because of the noise. Then leaving at 
the door of the royal race this king as in a sleep, but with life 
departed, the conquerors of foemen went away. Krishna, hav- 
ing ordered the standard-bearer to get ready Jarasandha's 
chariot, and caused the two brothers to ascend it, liberated 
the prisoners." They then went home to Indraprastha, and 
held the inauguration festival. 

When the inauguration was over, Krishna returned to his 
own city. Soon after Duryodhana expressed to S'akuni his reso- 
lution to get rid of the Pandavas ; and S'akuni, who was skilful 
at playing with dice, prevailed upon Yudishthira to play with 
him. In this match Yudishthira lost all his territory, his 
riches, and at last even Draupadi. Nevertheless, the five Pan- 

Indian Epic Poetry, 539 

(lavas were to give up their kingdom only for twelve years, 
and were allowed to retire to the wood accompanied by their 
wife. In their-forest life they were visited by pious Brahmans 
and other friends, who consoled them with many stories. One 
of them is the well-known story of King Nala, who, like Yudi- 
shthira, lost his kingdom by gambling, and then in despair left 
his wife, but ultimately recovered both. Arjuna meanwhile en- 
gaged in a course of severe penance, to obtain his father's divine 
weapons, in order to secure victory over the Kurus. During 
the course of these austerities he had to fight Siva, who ap- 
peared to him in the shape of a wild mountaineer, Kirata, but 
ultimately revealed his true nature, and presented him with 
his own particular weapon Pas'upata (so called from Pasu-pati, 
i.e. lord of creatures, a surname of S'iva). After this Indra 
and the other guardian gods of the celestial regions presented 
Arjuna with other missiles ; and at last he was taken to the 
divine palace of Indra, who embraced him, and placed him be- 
side himself on his throne. At the end of the twelfth year the 
five brothers came forward from their retreat, and after some 
preparations, the Kurus and Pandus met each other in a great 
battle on the plain of Kuru-kshetra, north-Avest of Delhi, each of 
them assisted by their respective friends ; Drupada and Krishna, 
together with Balarama, Krishna's brother, being on the side of 
the Pandus, Avhilst Kama was the chief hero of the opposite 
party. The opening of the fight was accompanied by fearful 
prodigies — showers of blood fell, thunder was heard in a cloud- 
less sky, the moon looked like fire, asses were born from cows, 
&c. In the battle the heroes perform prodigies of valour. 
" Arjuna is described as killing five hundred warriors simul- 
taneously, covering the whole plain and filling the rivers with 
blood ; Yudishthira, as slaughtering a hundred men in a mere 
twinkle; Bhim^, as annihilating a monstrous elephant including 
all mounted upon it, and fourteen foot soldiers besides, with 
one blow of his club ; Nakula and Sahadeva, fighting from 
their chariots, as cutting off* heads by the thousand, and sowing 
them like seed on the ground."''^ The result of this prowess of 
the Pandus is the death of nearly all the leaders on the other 
side, Duryodhana and Kama included. The latter, after innu- 
merable deeds of valour, was slain by Arjuna. Their meeting 
is thus described -^^ " They went against each other amidst 
the sound of shells and drums, with white horses, the two ex- 
cellent men. As two elephants of the Himalaya inflamed with 
desire of a female, thus did they meet each other, the heroes of 
fearful valour, Arjuna and Kama. As cloud comes on cloud, 
as spontaneously a mountain on a mountain, thus did they 

•*** Professor Monier Williams, 1. c. p. 27. ^' viii. 4513. 

540 Ind^ian Epic Poetry. 

meet each other amidst the noise of bows, strings, hands, and 
wheels, pouring forth a rain of arrows. As two peaks with 
high summits, full of trees, creeping plants and herbs, full of 
mighty and various cascades and dwellings, thus the two strong 
heroes unshaken struck one another with their mighty weapons. 
Their falling upon each other was powerful, as formerly that of 
the lord of the gods and Vairochana ; whilst their horses, their 
charioteers, and their own bodies, were hit by arrows, and 
others could not bear it, as the blood and water flowed. As 
two great lakes, inhabited by flocks of birds, with tortoises, 
fish, and expanded lotuses, but much disturbed and shaken by 
the wind, thus did the two chariots with their banners meet. 
Both were like in prowess to the great Indra, both were heroes 
to be compared to the great Indra; and with arrows like the 
thunderbolts of the great Indra they struck each other like Indra 
and Vritra. The two shining armies, composed of elephants, 
foot- soldiers, horses and chariots, wearing manifold armour, 
ornaments, clothes, and weapons, trembled at the wonderful 
fight of Arjuna and Kama, whose steeds w^ere bounding in 
the air. The joyous warriors lifted up their arms together 
with robes and hands shouting with lions' voice, desirous of 
seeing how Arjuna went against Kama, wishing to slay, like 
a mad elephant against an elephant. Then shouted the So- 
makas to Pritha's son : ' Advance, Arjuna ; smite Kama, 
cut ofi" his head ; enough of hesitation.' Then also many of our 
warriors spoke to Kama, * Go on, go on, Kama; kill Arjuna 
with sharp arrows. Again may the Pandus go for a long time 
to the wood.' " When at last Kama fell,^^ " his body, every 
where pierced by arrows, overflowed by streams of blood, shone 
like the sun with its own rays. Having burned the hostile 
army by the shining rays of his arrows, the sun of Kama had 
set before the strong Pluto, Arjuna." * 

After the battle, Dhrita-nishtra acknowledged the right of 
his nephews ; and Yudishthira was consequently inaugurated 
king, while Bhima was associated with him as heir-apparent. 
The rest of the poem possesses little interest except for inci- 
dental episodes ; but the story is nevertheless carried on to the 
death of the heroes. Yudishthira and his brothers ultimately 
gave up their kingdom to Arjuna's grandson Parikshit, and set 
out on a journey towards Indra^s heaven on mount Meru, the 
mythical Olympus, lying in the north. Draupadi went with 
them, and also a dog. At last they reached Meru ; but one 
after the other they dropped down dead, until Yudishthira was 
left the sole survivor, still accompanied by the dog. Indra 
refused him admittance to his heaven, as no dogs can enter 

5" vs. 4910. 

Indian Epic Poetry, 541 

there. But the dog revealed himself as Yudishthira's father 
Dharma, and they entered heaven together. There Yudish- 
thu'a found Duryodhana, but not his own brothers. He declined 
remaining in heaven without them, and was conducted by a 
divine messenger to Naraka (Tartarus), where he heard the 
cries of his brothers scorched by flames. He declared that he 
would share their fate, and sent away his divine attendant. 
But now Indra with the other gods appeared to inform him that 
all had been illusion ; and after having bathed in the Granga, 
he returned with them to the real heaven, where he met his 
brothers, and Krishna in all the splendour of his divine nature. 

From the above abstract our readers will have seen to w^hat 
an extent the warlike character predominates in the poem, and 
also that it is deeply tinged with a devotional spirit. Into the 
episodes other elements enter largely, as we observed before. 
Thus the episode of Nala is a thoroughly sentimental love-story; 
but it is by this time so well known to English readers that w^e 
shall say no more about it. Similar in spirit is the episode of 
Savitri, a beautiful and virtuous princess, who by her faithful 
love, and at the same time by her theological learning, so touches 
Yama, the god of death, as to cause him to restore the life of 
her husband, whose soul he was in the act of carrying away. 

The picture of the Mahabharata would be imperfect without 
alluding to the philosophical doctrines of some of the episodes, 
especially the renowned Bhagavadgita. The reasoning in 
this poem starts from the fundamental principle,^^ '^ there 
can be no existence of the non-existing ; there is no non- 
existence of that which exists.'' Consequently all things are 
of the substance of God, who, being incarnate in Krishna, 
describes himself in the following terms :^^ *' I am the origin 
and the dissolution of the whole world. There is nothing 
higher than I, Arjuna. On me is all this universe fixed, 
as strings of pearls on a thread. I am taste in the waters, I 
am splendour in sun and moon, I am devotion in all scriptures, 
I am sound in the air, male power in men, I am pure fra- 
grance in the earth, I am the light of the giver of light, I am 
the life in all living, I am penance in ascetics. Know me to 
be the eternal seed of all creatures, the wisdom of the wise, 
the radiance of the radiant am I." The ethical consequences 
of this doctrine are as follows :^^ " He who sees me in all 
things, and all things in me, for him I am not lost, nor is he 
lost for me. He who worships me as existing in all beings, 
turning towards unity, in whatever way he acts, he acts united 
with me." " He who already in this life before the release from 
the body can overcome the power arising from desire and pas- 

^» ii. 16. *2 vii. 6. 53 ^i. 30, 

542 Indian Epic Poetry, 

sion, lie is united (to me), he is happy. He who has pleasure, 
delight, and splendour in himself, he is united (with me), he, 
becoming Brahma, reaches the extinction in Brahma [the Ab- 
solute]. The extinction in Brahma is reached by sages whose 
sins are annihilated, who are freed from duality, have overcome 
themselves, and rejoice in the good of all beings. Those who 
are free from desire and passion, striving, with subdued minds, 
near unto them, versed in the knowledge of the soul, is the 
extinction in Brahma." ^^ It is this quietistic morality that has 
ultimately quenched the warlike spirit, still so clearly visible 
in the Mahabharata. 

The question remains, what historical truth there is in the 
tradition of the great battle, or whether there is any. Lassen 
is of opinion that the Mahabharata records in a mythical form 
the shock sustained by the Aryan inhabitants of the inner 
Hindostan in consequence of a new influx of immigrants of 
the same race. He grounds this view chiefly on the name of 
Pandu, which means " white, pale," and on that of his son 
Arjuna, '^ white, shining,^' as the new stream of Aryans from 
the north-w^est would be naturally of lighter colour than those 
who had already dwelt in the country for a considerable time. 
Krishna the name of their chief counsellor, and Krishna that 
of their wife, meaning black, would imply, in Lassen's opinion, 
that the new-comers were aided by a part of the black abori- 
gines of Hindostan. In confirmation of such a theory one 
could adduce the fact of Draupadi's, Madri^s, and Pritha^s 
polyandry ; a custom entirely unknown to any Indo-germanic 
nations, but still practised by some of the northern tribes of 
India that are Tibetan by race. The fact, however, that the 
father of both Pandus and Kurus was also called Krishna 
seems altogether to overturn Lassen's theory. Besides, Prof. 
Weber has pointed out another, and far more likely, explana- 
tion of Arj Una's name. It appears as a surname of Indra, the 
shining god of the firmament, in the Veda; and nothing is more 
probable than that his son should be originally identical with 
him, as he actually takes his father's place in the fights with 
the demons. In this case, Arjuna, of course, never had any 
existence. It is strange that scarcely any of the chief per- 
sonages of the Mahabharata appear in any Vedic writing, 
except Krishna, who is mentioned, however, only as a human 
being, in the Yrihad-Aranyaka and Chandogya-upanisliad. 
This is not favourable to the historical character of the Mah^- 
bhdrata. In the White Yajurveda the Kurus and Panchalas 
appear as two tribes closely united ; and in the same way they 
are mentioned in the S'ata-patha-brahmana, which knows 

*^ V. 23. 

Indian Epic Foetry, 54'S 

nothing of an internecine war between them.^^ On the other 
hand, the Brahmana in question aUudes to the destruction of 
Janamejaya, son of Parikshit, and of his brothers, Bhima-sena, 
Ugrasena, S'ruta-sena, with their whole race, as a recent and 
notorious event. This destruction of a kingly race, on which, 
however, we have no farther details, Weber considers to be 
the historical base of the tradition of the great battle with 
which a part of the myths referring to the god Indra was com- 
bined. If this be true, however, it is very strange that the 
Pandus, that is Janamejaya's own family, should be victorious 
in the great battle, and that moreover that battle should be 
described in the epic as having happened three generations 
before Janamejaya, and its history should be told to him. It 
seems to us impossible, in the absence of all historical testi- 
mony, to decide what were the actual facts on which the Maha- 
bharata may or may not be founded ; but Weber s suggestion 
with regard to Arjuna we unhesitatingly adopt as true. 

On the Ramayana («. e. the exploits of Rama) we must be 
more brief Its hero is Rama, son of Das'aratha, king of 
Ayodhya (Oude), of the solar dynasty. Das'aratha had no son. 
Accordingly he undertook a great horse-sacrifice to procure 
offspring. The gods assembled to receive their share of the 
sacrifice, and promised Das'aratha a son. They applied, then, 
to Brahma, and represented to him that the world was in 
danger of being destroyed by the king of demons, Ravana, who 
could only be killed by a man, as he had obtained from Brahma, 
by severe penance, the boon of being invulnerable to divine 
beings. Vishnu accordingly promised to take the form of man. 
At the sacrifice of Das'aratha a supernatural being rose from 
the fire and offered a cup of nectar to the priest, which the 
queens of Das'aratha were to drink. It was unequally shared 
between them, and Kaus'alya, who got half of it, brought forth 
Rama, who consequently was possessed of half the nature of 
Vishnu. Sumitra having taken the fourth part bore Laksh- 
mana and S'atrughna, each containing an eighth part of Vishnu's 
essence ; lastly, Kaikeyi drank the remaining portion, and her 
son Bharata was endowed with a fourth part* of the nature of 
the god. All the brothers were great friends, and in the body 
of the poem they are treated as human beings, even Rama 
seldom appearing in his divine character, although he is a 
pattern of human heroism and piety. He married Sita, the 
daughter of king Janaka of Mithila (Tirhut), whom he won in 
a similar way to that in which Arjuna won Draupadi, by not 
only bending but even snapping a wonderful bow. Rama was 
to be installed by his father as successor to the throne, when 

53 "Weber, Indische Litteraturgeschichte, pp. 131, 132. 

544« Indian Epic Poetry, 

Bharata's mother, jealous at the preference shown to the son 
of her rival, reminded the kin^r of a promise made in former 
years, that he would grant her two boons she might ask of him. 
She accordingly requested that Rdma should be banished, and 
Bharata installed in his stead. The king was obliged to com- 
ply ; but he soon afterwards died broken-hearted. Rama 
meekly submitted to his fate, restrained Lakshmana's anger, 
and declined Bharata's generous oifer to give the throne back 
to him. He then proceeded with his wife and Lakshmana into 
the forest of Dandaka, south of the Yamuna (Jumna). 

Having learned that the holy hermits there were much mo- 
lested by Bakshasas (demons, Titans), he promised his assist- 
ance against them. One of them, S'urpa-nakha, the sister of 
Bavana, fell in love with Rama ; but he refused her, whereupon 
she caused two of her brothers to attack Rama and Lakshmana 
with an army of Rakshasas. They were, however, defeated. 
S'urpa-nakha consequently applied to Ravana himself, who was 
the demon-king of Lanka (Ceylon), a monster with ten faces, 
twenty arms, copper-coloured eyes, and white teeth like the 
young moon. At the instigation of his sister, Ravana fell in 
love with Sita, and determined to carry her off, with the help 
of another demon, Marieha. This latter one took the shape of 
a golden deer, for which Sita evinced so strong a desire, that 
Rama went to hunt it. Marieha, mortally wounded by the 
hero, uttered cries imitating Rama's voice, which so alarmed 
Sita that she sent Lakshmana to seek for him. Thus left 
alone, she was taken captive by Ravana, who carried her 
through the air to his city, but tried in vain to shake her 
faithfulness, against which neither the promise to make her 
his queen, nor the torments inflicted on her by female demons 
(Rakshasis), availed any thing. Rama and Lakshmana, in their 
search for the lost maiden, reached the dwelling of Sugriva 
(i. e. beautiful neck), king of the Monkeys, who had lost his 
capital, Kishkindha [in the Dekhan], in warfare with his bro- 
ther Bali. Rama reinstated the king of the Monkeys, who in 
return promised to help him in the recovery of Sitd. Sugriva, 
therefore, as soon as the rainy season was ended, sent divers 
armies of his monkeys in search of her. One of them, com- 
manded by Hanumat (large- jawed), succeeded in finding out 
the hiding-place of Sita. Hanumat even leaped across through 
the air to Ceylon, and had an interview with Sita, who refused 
to be carried on his back to Rama, because she could not, as a 
modest woman, touch any one but her husband. Hanumat, 
having been taken prisoner by Ravana's son, Indrajit, and 
having afterwards escaped, returned to his master with the 
intelligence of Sita's whereabouts. Thereupon R^ma and the 

Indian Epic Poetry, 545 

monkey-king marched southward, and were joined by Vibi- 
shana, Ravana's brother, who had in vain tried to dissuade 
his brother from resistance against Rama. Nala, the son of 
Vis'vakarman, that is of the architect of the gods, built a 
pier across to Ceylon, which is supposed still to exist in the 
reefs reaching from the continent to the island. By this 
the monkey armies passed over ; and, after much fighting, 
Ravana was at last killed by Rama in single combat. Sita, 
suspected of unfaithfulness, offered to submit to an ordeal. But 
whilst she was entering the flames, the gods appeared to bear 
witness to her purity, and Agni himself (the god of fire) deli- 
vered her up in safety to her husband. Rama, after having in- 
stalled Vibishana in the place of his demon brother, returned to 
Ayodhya with his wife, and henceforth occupied the throne 
which Bharata had kept for him meanwhile, but which he now 
vacated. The faithful Hanumat was rewarded by the gift of 
perpetual life and youth. 

As our readers have already had specimens of the warlike 
style from the Mahabharata, we shall subjoin two passages from 
the Ramayana of a different character. 

The first we take from the introduction.^^ It is the Hindu 
account of the invention of poetry by Valmiki, the mythical 
author of the poem : " Having heard this speech of Narada" 
(the messenger of the gods, who had commanded Valmiki to 
sing Rama's exploits), " Valmiki, learned in speech, with his 
disciples, felt great astonishment ; and in his mind the great 
sage reverenced Rama, and with his disciples he saluted Na- 
rada. Honoured by him, according to custom, Narada, the 
divine sage, having obtained permission, returned to the abode 
of the gods. As soon as Narada had gone to the world of the 
celestial, Valmiki, the best of sages, went to the banks of the 
Tamasa. The great sage approaching a holy bathing-place in 
the Tamasa, said to his disciple who stood by his side, observing 
it to be free from mud, * Behold ! Bahradvaja, this bathing- 
place free from gravel, clear and quiet, like the mind of good 
men. This is a bathing-place still and agreeable, with good 
water, with soft sand ; at this place I will enter the waters of 
the Tamasa. Take thou my garment of bark, and come quickly 
back from my hermitage ; do it well, so that there may be no 
delay.' He quickly returning from the hermitage, according to 
the words of his master, brought the dress of bark to his 
master ; and having taken the dress from his disciple, put it on, 
plunged into the water, bathed, and having offered the fitting 
prayers in silence, and poured out libations to the Manes and 
the deities, he went looking about every where in the Tamasa 


546 Indian Epic Poetry, 

forest. Then he saw on the hanks of the Tamasd, walking ahout 
without fear, a couple of curlews, of beautiful aspect ; and a 
hunter, approaching unseen, shot one of this couple in the pre- 
sence of the sage. Seeing him in convulsions on the ground, 
with his limbs overflowed with blood, the female curlew, in her 
sorrow, lamented piteously, flying about in the air. When the 
sage, accompanied by his disciple, saAv this bird killed in the 
wood, there arose pity in his mind : then, through this feeling 
of pity, the best of the Brahmans, of just mind, perceiving the 
female curlew piteously crying, sang thus : * Never mayst 
thou, hunter, find peace for eternal years ; because thou hast 
killed one of the pair of curlews that was intoxicated by love/ 
When he had spoken this word, he became at once thoughtful. 
' What is this which I spoke pitying this bird V and having 
mused for a moment and considered this speech, he said to his 
disciple, Bharadvaja, v/ho stood by his side, ' This speech is 
bound in four feet of an equal number of syllables ; and because 
it was spoken by me in sorrow (s'ochata), therefore it shall be 
called verse (s'loka)/ '' 

The next passage we will give describes the interview of 
Sita with her husband after her release from Havana :^^ " Thus 
addressed by Rama, Vibishana, full of impatience, led forward 
Sita into the presence of the noble-minded Rama. And having 
heard Rama's words with regard to Sita, all the dwellers in 
the wood and all his subjects, with Vibishana as their chief, 
looked towards each other : ' What will Rama do now ? His 
hidden anger is apparent ; it becomes visible by his looks/ 
Thus thinking, they all trembled seeing Rama's behaviour; 
they were frightened by his unusual looks ; apprehension arose 
within them. . . . And the Mithila maiden (Sita), with her body 
drooping through shame, went forAvard to her husband, followed 
by Vibishana. They saw her approaching as Venus in a bodily 
shape, like a divinity of Lanka, like Prabha, the wife of the 
sun-god. She, with Jier face wet with tears, ashamed in the 
assembly of men, stood, having approached her husband, as the 
beautiful S'ri [Venus] comes towards Vishnu. And also Rama, 
seeing her bearing divine beauty, though his mind was full 
of suspicion, did not speak to her for tears. Rama, with pale 
countenance, tossed about on an ocean of anger and love, had 
his eyes very red, but it pleased him to restrain his tears. 
Seeing her standing before himself, the godlike lady, over- 
whelmed in her mind by shame, deeply afilicted, lost in thought 
like one bereft of her lord, the maiden carried off* by the 
Rdkshasa through violence, afllicted by captivity, scarcely 
having preserved her life, as it were, returned from the world 

*' vi. 99, 37. 

Indian Epic Poetry. 547 

of death, taken away by force from the empty hermitage, pure- 
minded, sinless, blameless, yet Rama did not speak to her. 
With her eyes full of tears, ashamed in the assembly of men, 
having approached her husband she wept, saying, ' hero, son 
of noble men.' Hearing her wailing, the chieftains all wept, 
sorrow rising in them, having their eyes filled with tears. And 
covering his face with his garment, Lakshmana, full of affliction, 
made an effort to restrain his tears, resolved to remain firm. 
Then Sita of beautiful waist, perceiving the great change in 
her husband, stood before him conquering her shame. The 
beautiful maiden of Videha, conquering her sorrow, and rely- 
ing on her faithfulness, restraining her tears by her pure soul, 
presented various aspects caused by astonishment, joy, love, 
anger, and weariness, as she gazed on her husband." 

We have already observed that we see no reason to re- 
gard the Ramayana as older than the Mahabharata. The very 
unity of the Ramayana leads to an opposite conclusion. Such 
large works only arise after epic poetry has run through 
many stages, and when the individual poet has a vast mass of 
previous songs to serve for his education. The comparative 
freedom of the Ramayana from allusions to foreign nations of 
later times, is easily explained by the fact that the exploits of 
its hero have the south of India for their scene. Besides, 
there are not wanting allusions to the Greek kings, and even 
later times. We cannot share, therefore, the naive assurance 
of Gorresio, who actually believes in Yalmiki's authorship. 
The only feature worth mentioning that might be adduced in 
favour of a very ancient period, is the circumstance that of 
Das'aratha's wives none burns herself with him ; a custom well 
known to Cicero, who probably got his knowledge from the 
historians of Alexander. But between a custom sometimes fol- 
lowed and a necessity always to be followed, there is some 
difference. That the suttee ever was a necessity it would be 
difficult to prove. 

The historical basis of the Ramayana is considered by 
Lassen, with Avhom most competent scholars seem to agree, to 
be the remembrance of the fight between the civilised Aryans 
of Hindostan and the savage natives of Southern India. The 
monkeys who assisted Rama are in this view the representa- 
tives of that portion of the Dekhanic population that willingly 
fell in with the Brahminical life. We have very little faith 
in the distillation of history out of epic legends. The fact that 
the Dekhan was civilised by the Aryan Hindus rests happily 
on better evidence than that of the Ramayana, namely, on the 
nature of that civilisation itself The poem must be judged 
as a poem. For those, however, of our readers who have the 


54*8 Indian Epic Poetry, 

amiable weakness of wishin<]j the characters of fiction to be 
made as authentic and historical as possible, we may mention 
that the father at least of Sita, Janaka, king of Mithila or 
Videha, seems to be a historial person, for he is mentioned in 
the S'ata-patha-brahmana^^ as Janaka, king of the Kos'ala- 
Videha. The Kos'ala are in the Ramayana the people of his 
son-in-law, Kama. 

The other epic poems of the Hindus are numerous. They 
consist first of the Puranas {i.e, old legends). These are ascribed 
to the same author as the Mahabharata, namely, Vdyasa. We 
pointed out before that certain Vedic writings mention compo- 
sitions of this name, but these compositions have nothing in 
common with the works now so called except the name. We 
have eighteen Puranas, but there were apparently at an earlier 
period only six, as the Bhagavata-Purana states^^ that Vayasa 
originally made six collections, which were communicated by 
him to Romaharshana or Lomaharshana, called Suta (bard), who 
taught them to six different disciples. From these Ugras'ravas, 
Romaharshana's son, also called Suta, learned in his turn the 
six collections. This Ugras'ravas is the same person as the 
bard who recited the Mahabharata for the second time. There 
seems to be nothing historical in all these traditions, except 
the former existence of six Puranas. This circumstance ex- 
plains why, in the eighteen which have come down to us, there 
is much sameness of matter, and why often whole portions are 
even identical in words. The language and style of the Pura- 
nas are, upon the whole, the same as those of the Mahabharata. 
As to their contents, they are a kind of mythological encyclo- 
pedias, to be compared with the Bibliotheca of Apollodorus, or, 
better still, with Hesiod's theogony, executed on a gigantic 
scale. Most of the Puranas have besides a sectarian object, to set 
forth the praise of some particular god, more especially of either 
S'iva, or Vishnu, and his various incarnations. The favourite 
deity of each Purana is accordingly represented as identical 
with Brahma or the Absolute. These vast compilations are of 
rather modern origin. The Vishnu-purana knows the Gupta 
kings, whose reign began at about 170 a.d.,^^ and apparently 
even the Mahometan invasions, which did not begin before 
the eighth century. No wonder, therefore, that in these late 
works the old warlike elements of the Mahabharata have be- 
come overgrown and almost entirely smothered by the reli- 

« Weber, Ind. Litt. p. 130. 

*' See Boumoufs edition of it, i. p. xxxvi. 

«• Wilson (^Translation of the Vishnu-purana, p, Ixxii.) says that they reigned 
in the seventh century. But the above more correct date has since been as- 
certained from new monuments. Their reign extended indeed to the seventh 

Indian Epic Poetry, 549 

gious element. The exploits of the gods are described in the 
most hyperbolical phraseology, tiresome in the extreme to our 
European taste. 

The Mahabharata is generally described in India as an 
itihasa (legend), whereas the Ramayana is called a kavya 
(poem). This latter name implies greater unity and indivi- 
duality. There are other kavyas besides the Ramayana, the 
authors of which are well known and real persons. Kalidasa 
himself wrote two, the Raghu-vans'a, or history of Rhagu's 
family, the race of Rama, and the Kumara-Sambhava, or 
birth of Kumara, the god of war. These, though more arti- 
ficial than the old epic, are still truly poetical works. But as 
time went on, the Hindu epic degenerated more and more. 
Such works as the Nalodaya, or history of Nala, a poem chiefly 
remarkable for playing with words and rhymes ; the Sls'upala- 
badha, i. e. death of Sisupala, with verses that may be read 
forwards and backwards, upwards and downwards ; the Bhatti- 
kavya, narrating the history of Rama so as'to exemplify in every 
canto particular grammatical forms, which is done by using, 
for instance, the same tense all through it; — such compositions 
as these are no more poetry than the Pugna Porcorum of our 
middle ages. The height of absurdity is reached by the Ra- 
ghava-Pandaviya, which is written in such a manner that one 
may read it, at will, as the history of Rama or of the sons of 
Pandu. Works like these only show the utter extinction of all 
epic spirit in their authors. 

We have still to say a few words on the artistic peculiarities 
of the Indian epic. Our readers are in some measure able to 
form conclusions on the subject for themselves from the speci- 
mens with which we have interspersed the preceding pages. 
They will have remarked that there is really much poetical 
power in some of them ; and they will also have observed that 
the style has many points in common with the Greek. The 
extensive use of similes, the repetition of certain epic formulas, 
the constant application of what has not inappropriately been 
called epitheta ornantia, a general tendency to spread out the 
narrative and dwell on its details, are common to both. The 
likeness would appear still more striking if the similarity of the 
two languages in grammar could be conveyed by any transla- 
tion. The epic machinery of supernatural events also, and the 
close proximity and — so to speak — the terms of equality between 
gods and heroes, may be added to these general features. But 
we must nevertheless not forget the vast difference between 
the Iliad and the Mahabharata, and, let us frankly confess it, 
the inferiority of the Hindu epic. For, when the poetic litera- 
ture of India was discovered by Europeans, it was natural and 

550 Indian Epic Poetry, 

excusable — especially if we consider the marvellous expectations 
previously entertained regarding that country — that in the first 
joy of the discovery of noble poems in a quarter where nobody 
had looked for poetic power (but rather for primitive religion 
and philosophy), men should have indulged in exaggerated en- 
thusiasm. But it is time now, when we know India better, to 
recover our artistic sense, and return to the Greeks with in- 
creased and increasing admiration. Let us compare the Ma- 
habharata with the Iliad. Putting aside the loose form of the 
Indian poem, there remain other grave blemishes likely to jar 
on European feelings. The peculiar Brahminical morality and 
philosophy is a discordant element. This is not the place to 
pass a judgment on the intrinsic merit of these doctrines. 
Whatever may be thought of the Brahminical ideal of society, 
the philosophical development — say, for instance, in the Bha- 
gavad-Grita — is of no small power. Such a poem must for ever 
occupy a memorable place in the history of philosophy, beside 
Parmenides and the Stoics, beside Spinoza and Hegel. But it 
is equally certain that this philosophy of the '"' One and All" is 
not favourable to the simplicity and straightforwardness, the 
naive energy of epic poetry. In this sense — in this merely 
artistic sense, we repeat — Homer's heroes, simple as they are, 
savage if you like, are vastly superior, as poetical figures, to 
the warriors of the Mahabharata, who in the interval of their 
battles can reason high about God and man, fate and eternity. 
But this is not all. In the passage describing Kama's last 
combat with Arjuna our readers will have observed the super- 
abundance of similes ; and this excess of riches is a universal 
feature of the Indian epic. How would Homer have dealt with 
this profusion of images ? The answer is not difficult. Com- 
pare for a moment the introduction to the KaToXoyo^; vrjwVj 
describing in a series of similes the gathering of the Achajans 
and Trojans. Instead of heedlessly scattering about compari- 
sons with mountains and lotus-lakes, and lions and elephants, 
the Greek poet (or poets) would have dwelt on each of these ; 
depicted the lion, the elephant, the mountain, and the lotus- 
lake in all their peculiar features ; describing them, delighting 
in them, shaping them into clear images, and communicating 
his delight and his clear perception to his hearers. And not 
only the Greek poets would have dealt so with similes, but 
the older Indian poets also — we mean the authors of the Yedic 
songs — would have adopted a similar course. For the hymns 
we have laid before our readers above are, in the simplicity 
of their imagery, much more akin to the Iliad than to the 
Mahabharata. It is clear, therefore, that when the Aryans 
Lad reached the inner plain of Hindostan a change came 

Lidian Epic Poetnj. 551 

over them. The tropical sun, the strange scenery, the gigantic 
nature, displayed in the vast mountains of the north, as well 
as in the immense rivers of the south, the large palm-trees 
and huge creeping plants, the unheard-of beasts and birds, — 
all these together have influenced the Indian mind, driving 
it to excess, and at the same time lulling it into weary repose. 
Hence the fierce sensuaUty of their love-poems; hence, as the 
opposite side of the picture, their self-renouncing, self-despair- 
ing philosophy ; hence also their wild flights of fancy in the 
epic. We are crowded by similes, hurried from one to another, 
each splendid and glowing, but none remaining long enough 
before our minds to give us a clear picture. There are snowy 
mountains, wild jungles, streams with floating lotus-flowers, 
elephants and tigers roaming through impervious forests, rain 
and sunshine in fitful changes, sun and moon, night and morn- 
ing, gods and demons in combat ; but our eyes are dazzled by 
these shifting scenes, our minds grow weary, and in the midst 
of palms and lotuses we long for home, for a simple northern 
meadow, with a cloudy sky and scant glimpses of sunshine, 
with a few daisies instead of lotuses, and instead of mighty 
rivers a small brook murmuring through the grass. To speak 
more precisely : Hindu epic poetry deals lavishly with similes. 
When the youthful Pindar did the same, Corinna is said to 
have addressed him with these warning words : " Not with the 
sack [must you sow], but with the hand, Pindar.'' The 
Greek poet profited by the lesson; but the Indians are con- 
stantly sowing with the sack. 

The efiect of this superabundance of imagery is, in the first 
place, want of perspicuity. The mind cannot realise so many 
ideas at once. But the Hindus apparently count this want of 
clearness as a merit. When in the Iliad a god disappears, he 
flies away in the shape of a bird ; thus ofi'ering to the imagina- 
tion, in sjfite of the miracle, something to fasten upon. The 
Indian epic simply says that he disappears [antar-adhiyata], 
without giving the hearer any clue to his manner of doing it. 
Homer is moderate in his use of numbers ; in the Indian epic 
we are constantly told that this hero reigned for thousands of 
years, and that ascetic stood ten thousand years on one leg. 
All this shows the comparative absence of clearness, form, and 
measure. But the want of artistic shape and moderation, 
though it may at first sight seem to arise from superabundance 
of strength, ultimately results in weakness. In one passage^^ 
Arjuna is represented as using the terrible weapon of S'iva 
against the Titans, and scarcely was it shot when there ap- 
peared '•' thousandfold shapes of deers, of lions, tigers, bears, 

^' Bopp, Arjuna-samdgama, x. 44, 

552 Indian Epic Poetry. 

buffaloes, snakes, cows, elephants, monkeys in heaps, bulls, 
boars, and cats, s'alas, wolves, ghosts, vultures, griffins, bees, 
trees, mountains, and oceans; gods, sages, and gandharvas, 
vampires, yakshas, and foes of the gods," &c. *' Of these, and 
many other beings of divers forms, this whole world was full, 
when that weapon had been shot ; and they had three heads, 
four tusks, four arms." 

There is no doubt that the Indian poet means by the above 
description to represent the highest effort of superhuman 
strength. But now compare with this the passage of the Iliad,^ 
where Diomedes is said to have throAvn a stone at j£neas, 
" such as two men could not lift, as mortals now are, yet he 
threw it easily." How much less imposing is Diomedes than 
Arjuna ! how modest the imagination of the Greek poet com- 
pared with the flight the Hindu's mind has taken ! And yet 
on which side is the strength — on which is the weakness ? on 
which the beautiful — and on which the ridiculous? 

It would be unjust, however, if, without qualification, we 
were to measure the poetical productions of the Hindu by the 
standard which we owe to the Greeks, and which we should 
never have possessed except for them. The Hindu epic, if 
not strictly faultless, has yet acted as a power creative of poetry 
on other nations. For not only are there translations of the 
two great poems in the modern languages of Hindostan, Bengali 
and Hindustani ; but also the Dekhanic people, when they be- 
came brahmanised, adopted the epic traditions of the Aryans, 
and reproduced them in their own language. Indeed, these 
tales were carried as far as Java by the Indian colonists. For 
in Kavi, the old literary language of that island, containing a 
large admixture of Sanskrit^ and formed under its influence, 
we find both a Brata-Yudda (Mahabharata) and a Rama-kavi 
(Ramayana). It is gratifying to dwell on these facts, which 
indisputably show that the Aryan-Hindus, in spite of their 
shortcomings, were yet, in epic poetry as well as in other 
things, a civilised and civilising nation. 

62 V. 302. 

[ 553 ] 



The celebrated Egyptian ascetic Dhou-el-Noun, in the third 
century of the Hejirah, relates the following story of his spi- 
ritual teacher Schakran, in whose person he speaks : " When 
I was young, I lived on the eastern bank of the Nile, near 
Cairo, and gained my livelihood by ferrying passengers across 
to tlie western side. One day, as I was sitting in my boat near 
the river- shore, about noon, an aged man presented himself be- 
fore me; he wore a tattered robe, a staff was in his hand, and a 
water-skin suspended to his neck. ' Will you ferry me over for 
the love of God ?' said he. I answered, ' Yes.' ' And will you 
fulfil my commission for the love of God ?' ' Yes/ Accordingly I 
rowed him across to the western side. On alighting from the boat, 
he pointed to a solitary tree some distance ojff, and said to me, 
' Now go your way, and do not trouble yourself further about me 
till to-morrow ; nor indeed will it be in your power even should 
you desire it, for as soon as I have left you, you will at once forget 
me. But to-morrow, at this same hour of noon, you will sud- 
denly call me to mind ; then go to that tree which you see before 
you ; I shall be lying dead in its shade. Say the customary 
prayers over my corpse, and bury me ; then take my robe, my 
statf, and the water-skin, and return with them to the other side 
of the river ; there deliver them to him who shall first ask them 
of you : this is my commission.' Having said this, he immediately 
departed. I looked after him, but soon lost sight of him, and then, 
as he had himself already forewarned me, I utterly forgot him. 
But next day, at the approach of noon, I suddenly remembered 
the event, and hastily crossing the river alone, I came to the 
western bank, and then made straight for the tree. In its shade I 
found him stretched out at full length, with a calm and smiling 
face, but dead. I recited over him the customary prayers, and 
buried him in the sand at the foot of the tree ; then I took the 
garment, the water-skin, and the staff, and returned to my boat. 
Arrived at the eastern side, I found standing on the shore to meet 
me a young man, whom I knew as a most dissolute fellow of the 
town, a hired musician by profession. He was gaudily dressed, his 
countenance bore the traces of recent debauch, and his fingers 
were stained with henna. ' Give me the bequest,' said he. 
Amazed at such a demand from such a character, ' And what 
bequest ?' I answered. ' The staff, the water-skin, and the gar- 
ment,' was his reply. Hereon I drew them, though unwillingly, 
from the bottom of the boat where I had concealed them, and 

554f Asceticism amongst Mahometan Nations. 

gave them to him. He at once stripped off his gay clothes, put on 
the tattered robe, hung the water-skin round his neck, took the 
staff in his hand, and turned to depart. I, however, caught hold 
of him, and exclaimed, ^ For God's sake, ere you go tell me the 
meaning of this, and how this bequest has become yours, such as 
I know you.' ' By no merit of my own certainly,' answered he. 
'But I passed last night at a wedding feast, with many boon 
companions, in singing, drinking deep, and mad debauch. As 
the night wore away and morning drew near, tired out with 
pleasure and heavy with wine, I lay down on the ground to 
sleep. Then in my sleep one stood by me, and said, * God has 
at this very hour taken to Himself the soul of the ascetic such- 
a-one, and has chosen you to fill his place on earth. Rise, and 
go to the river-bank ; there you will meet a ferryman in his boat ; 
demand from him the bequest; he will give you a garment, a 
staff, and a water-skin ; take them, and live as their first owner 
lived/ Such was his story; he then bade me farewell, and went 
his way. But I wept bitterly over my own loss, in that I had 
not been chosen in his place as successor to the dead saint, and 
thought that such a favour would have been more worthily be- 
stowed on me than on him. But that same night, as I slept, I 
heard a voice saying to me, ' Schakran, is it grief to thee that I 
have called an erring servant of mine to repentance ? The favour 
is my free gift, and I bestow such on whom I will, nor yet do I 
forget those who seek me/ I awoke from sleep, and repented 
of my impatient ambition.'' And so he concludes his narrative 
with some verses of Arab poetry,, which we will here render as 
best we may : 

" The true lover seeks no self-advantage from his beloved ; 
All choice on thy part, lover, is treason in love ; ah, didst thou but 

understand it aright ! 
Should He please to raise thee in His favour, it is His mere gift and 

Or should He keep thee at a distance, thou hast no right to complain. 
Nay, if thou fiudest not thy pleasure even in His seeming coldness 

towards thee, 
Give up thy rank among lovers, that place is not for thee. 
Ah, my God, if indeed love has rendered Thee Lord of my soul. 
Or has surrendered me to Thee as a bond-slave, Thine even to the death, 
Grant, or deny, or keep silence, it is all one, 

My glory is to be ever Thine, and that suffers nor change nor abasement. 
I seek nought of Thee in love's service save Thy own good pleasure. 
And if it be Thy good pleasure to treat me with coldness, that too is 


Is this a passage from the lives of the Fathers of the Desert, 
or from the hagiology of modern Egypt ? As he who has not 
travelled abroad or become acquainted with foreign nations can 
never rightly understand his own, so he who has not studied the 


Asceticism amongst Mahometan Nations. 555 

history and development of other religions can but ill understand 
or appreciate that which he professes. Truth is one; and reli- 
gion, in its highest sense as the ultimate expression of truth, can 
only be one if it is true. For religion has its objective as well 
as its subjective side, and denotes the objects worshipped as they 
exist in themselves, as well as in their relation to the worshipper. 
Moreover, whatever differences there maybe between one reli- 
gion and another objectively considered, yet subjectively religion 
can have but one subject-matter, one ground upon which its line 
is traced — the human mind. Infinite as are the forms, immense 
the divergence between Paganism, Judaism, Christianity, and 
Mahometanism, and again between their countless sections and 
sub-sections, aberrations or developments, orthodoxies or heresies, 
they have all as the subject-matter of such multiform variety one 
common field of action — the human race. Now that religions do 
really and most deeply modify, influence, determine, the cha- 
racter of those who hold them, no thinking mind can doubt. 
Yet the converse is equally true ; and while such varied religions 
as divide among themselves the hundreds of millions of the 
human species are exercising, each over its allotted section, an 
influence more or less pernicious or beneficial, the one subject 
mind, so diverse in its unity, so truly one in all its diversity, is 
constantly and most efiicaciously reacting on its ruler, modify- 
ing, restricting, developing, and bringing back in a certain mea- 
sure to unity, creeds so diverse and forms so varying. The Arabs 
have no truer saying in their famed proverbial store than the 
favourite adage " Beni Adam," " Sons of Adam," by which they 
concisely formulise the uniformity, the unity, of human mind and 
conduct, amid all the variations of ages, nations, and climes. 
And this holds good Avith regard to religion as to all the rest. 

No one therefore should be surprised, much less scandalised, 
to find in other religions, which he regards as false, pretty much 
the same order of progress, of action, or of decline, as in his own, 
which he regards as true. Possibly he may be right in this his 
belief, possibly he may be wrong ; but right or wrong, he should 
remember that the nature which forms the ground- work, or the 
subject-matter, of both religions is the same. 

And this fact should serve to make us less anxious to discover, 
and less ardent to uphold, certain theories, whereby some endea- 
vour to trace all religions to one common source, thus making 
them all branches — some straighter, others more gnarled or dis- 
torted — of the same common stock or tree. Religions are often, 
like language, not daughters but sisters ; even the link between 
them is very generally not that of consanguinity, but afiinity. 
And as among trees the same general and leading features of 
roots, trunk, branches, and leaves, are to be found generally with 

556 Asceticism amongst Mahometan Nations. 

a certain uniformity in all, though their minute features and 
intrinsic qualities are widely different, so is it in a measure with 
religions. This consideration will serve to clear up the apparent 
inconsistency of looking for asceticism among [Mahometans. 
How is it possible to find asceticism in a religion based on 
fatalism, "propped by sensuality, maintained and propagated by 
brute- force, in which the highest type of man is the ferocious 
warrior; the noblest reward proposed, a bevy of voluptuous 
houris? And how can one sentence bring together words of 
such opposite meaning as asceticism and Mahometanism ? or 
what can they have in common ? how coexist V Asceticism, 
cannot be found in Mahometanism in its absolute and ideal 
character, but only as it exists subjectively; in its votaries, in 
Mahometan persons and nations, it may exist, however incon- 
sistent it may be with the theory of the religion. True it is that 
Mahometanism as such seems absolutely to exclude from its 
range not only whatever might bear the name of ascetic, but 
even the virtues and ideas that could serve as a basis to asceti- 
cism. And so in fact it did for a while, that is, during a short 
period of early vigour, and whilst the action of the new and in- 
vading principle was strong enough to smother the reaction of 
the human mind, and resist whatever modifications such reaction 
might strive to impress on it. But so complete a triumph was 
not of long duration; internal development, however contrary 
to the real and original intentions and tendencies of the new 
system, went on and strengthened, till, fostered and excited by 
external influences, unavoidable too in the course of events, a 
new creation appeared, — new as to the ground it thus occupied, 
yet nowise new, rather very old, in itself. And thus asceticism, 
so long known and prevalent in the ancient religions of India 
and China, in Buddhism and Brahminism, not entirely repressed 
by Grecian symbolism or Roman materialism, fostered in the 
Egyptian temples and not excluded by the simplicity of the 
Sinaitic law, familiar to the teachings of Zoroaster, and long 
since dominant and brought to a yet fuller and nobler form 
under the kindred influence of Christianity, found place for its 
roots and outspread its branches in the ungenial soil of Ma- 
hometanism itself. 

What was its origin, to what influences it owed its first rise 
and rapid propagation, how far doctrines or practices, remem- 
brances or anticipations, strange to the law and credence of Islam 
gave it strength or form, its history will best show. It is our 
object to trace this history as far as our limits will permit. Much 
will remain unsaid ; yet it is something to open the first line of 
investigation in a subject of such manifold interest and bearing. 

No doubt can be entertained by any one who has attentively 

Asceticism amongst Mahometan Nations. 557 

studied the Coran, or considered the life of Mahomet as known 
in contemporary, or at least in early Arab, tradition, that the 
camel-driver of the Hedjaz was as adverse to all approach to 
asceticism in theory as he was remote from it in practice. This 
is shown by his often-repeated words ; and certainly his personal 
history in no way belied them ; and such too were, as might 
have been expected, the tendencies of the religion he founded. 
A short and uniformly monotonous form of prayer ; a few ex- 
ternal ceremonies, almost all intimately connected with Avhatever 
is most animal, most debasing in human nature ; a most servile 
fear of a most material hell ; a most base desire of a heaven of 
wine and harlots ; a blind and inexorable destiny for God ; and 
a crowd of slaves for creatures or worshipers ; — such is Islam, as 
Mahomet conceived it, and as such he constantly preached it. 
Certainly the law and the lawgiver had little of the ascetic 
in them!! And the " Sahih,'' the " Mischkat el Mesabih," and 
similar documents, attest with what energy, ^' in season and out 
of season," he endeavoured to render his first followers and com- 
panions even as he was ; nor without success. 

Yet even in his lifetime an attempt was made to engraft on 
this strange trunk a branch of very different growth. The facts 
are well known. One evening, after some more vigorous decla- 
mations than usual on the prophet's part, — he had taken for his 
theme the flames and tortures of hell, — several of his most zealous 
companions, among whom the names of Omar, Ali, Abou-Dharr, 
and Abou-Horeirah are conspicuous, retired to pass the night to- 
gether in a neighbouring dwelling. Here they fell into deep dis- 
course on the terrors of divine justice, and the means to appease or 
prevent its course. The conclusion they came to was nowise unna- 
tural. They agreed that to this end the surest way was to abandon 
their wives, to pass their lives in continued fast and abstinence, to 
wear hair-cloth, and practise other similar austerities : in a word, 
they laid down for themselves a line of conduct truly ascetic, 
and leading to whatever can follow in such a course. But they 
desired first of all to secure the approbation of Mahomet. Ac- 
cordingly, at break of day they presented themselves before him, 
to acquaint him with the resolution of the night, as well as its 
motives and purport ; but they had reckoned without their host. 
The prophet rejected their proposition with a sharp rebuke, and 
declared marriage and war to be far more agreeable to the Divinity 
than any austereness of life or mortification of the senses what- 
ever : and the well-known passage of the Coran, " O true be- 
lievers, do not abstain from the good things of the earth which 
God permits you to enjoy," — revealed, of course, by Gabriel on 
this very occasion, — remains a lasting monument of Mahomet^s 
disgust at this premature outbreak of ascetic feeling. 

558 yUceiicism amongst Mahometan Nations, 

Such a lesson, joined to many others of a similar character, 
was not likely to be soon forgotten. For a century after the 
prophet's death we hardly find any authentic manifestation of the 
same tendency. Continued warfare, sometimes against the sur- 
rounding nations, sometimes, and with equal animosity, among 
themselves ; the intoxicating excitement of a new and vast 
sphere of life and action, in which all more or less participated ; 
the charms of plundered wealth, of captive beauty, of fair lands 
subdued, — lands which to the half-starved natives of the barren 
Hedjaz seemed the very paradise promised as future recompense, 
— Egypt and Syria, Persia and the islands of the Mediterranean, 
Africa and the Indus ; — all this was little calculated to foster in the 
flushed conquerors ascetic ideas or corresponding practices. One 
family alone seems from the very outset to have manifested the 
germs of an opposite disposition. Ali, the son of Abou-Zhalib, and 
his numerous race, gave proofs first of a mystic, then of an as- 
cetic, turn of mind, destined to exercise in after ages, down to the 
present day, and probably as long as Islam shall have being, a 
strange and deep influence on the Mahometan world. Their early 
establishment on the frontiers of Persia, the study or contact of 
Persian ways and literature, much contributed to bring out and 
to modify in them their peculiar inclinations. It was in fact in 
the very lands formerly subject to the Persian rule and religion 
that Mahometanism, as we shall soon see, admitted — first in a few 
scattered instances and hesitatingly, then widely spread and fully 
— the new school, so different from, nay so opposite to, that of its 
founder. Yet the love of study, a remarkable delicacy of feeling, 
and a high, even over-wrought, enthusiasm might have sufficed 
alone to produce such a result in the family of Ah, even in- 
dependently of similar influences ; and in fact, if Ali himself, his 
son Hasan, his grandson Zein el Abidin, and after them Djaufar es- 
Sadik, Mousa el Kadhim, Ali er-Ridha, and others of their race, 
were successively looked up to by the ascetic brotherhood as 
guides and instructors in word and deed, yet they never seem to 
have given in to the pantheistic or Manichsean tendencies so 
remarkable at a later period among the derviches of Persia. But, 
as their lives and actions are, to a certain extent, known in 
Europe, we shall pass over their detail in silence, and content 
ourselves with having thus indicated once for all a family which 
was the very backbone, so to speak, of the ascetic frame, to dwell 
more fully on those less known in our Western world, though 
most deserving of serious and discerning attention. 

For brevity's sake, we shall not note down, one by one, 
the authorities whence these same facts or events are derived, 
contenting ourselves with here indicating their names once for 
all. Ebn Khallican, Moukri, the Nablousi, Abd el Ghani, the 


Asceticism amongst Mahometan Nations, 559 

Souk el Aschwak, Roudhat el Abrar, El AkWak es-Sabaa, the 
writings of Mohi ed Din el Hamavvi, of Omar Ebn Faridh, of 
the Ghazali, of the Kalyoubi, the Anwar el Kadisich, the Kibrit 
el Ahraar have furnished us with the greater part of the facts 
and dates here cited ; oral tradition, gathered in intimate inter- 
course with many yet living among the mystics and ascetics 
themselves, has supplied a lesser share. Nor do we pretend here 
to determine the amount of historical credit due to these works 
or authors, such historical criticism belonging to another and 
different study. Valeant quantum valent. After all sifting and 
pondering, a very considerable residue will remain. The events 
recorded, the sayings reported, were mostly public, and subjected 
in their very age to the examen of doubt, scepticism, and hosti- 
lity. Nor do we attempt to explain, to account for, these phe- 
nomena. We have indeed a very definite, and to us certain, 
idea as to their origin and character ; and our readers will pro- 
bably have one also. But to resume our narrative. 

The first historical outbreak of ascetic feeling had been, w^e 
have already seen, spontaneous, and of an Arab character among 
Arabs. But the lawgiver himself was still alive ; he set his 
own full influence against it, and stifled it in the germ. War 
and conquest, with all their train, prevented its speedy reappear- 
ance. But now the first ardours of movement and novelty had 
subsided; the sword was, in many regions, sheathed; and another 
generation had sprung up, accustomed from their birth to the 
gardens of Damascus or the rose-groves of Schiraz, and through 
very custom less sensible to their charms, no longer new. Mean- 
while the great mass of the conquered populations, though out- 
wardly professing Islam — nay inwardly believing it — yet re- 
tained, even unavoidably, much of their old feelings and heredi- 
tary creeds. And the first country where all these circumstances 
combined to produce their necessary result was, as might have 
been expected, Persia. 

Its inhabitants, whether followers of Zoroaster or allied to 
their near neighbours the Indians, had already been for ages in 
presence of mystical ideas and ascetic practices, and had largely 
imbibed them. Besides, they were far removed by lands and 
seas from the original centre and radiating focus of Arab Maho- 
metanism ; and difference of race, added in a great number to the 
Schiite divergence of creed, rendered them antipathetic, if not to 
the rehgion and law, at least to the ways and practices of the 
Arabs. These last had at first rejected — put down — asceticism in 
every form or fashion ; this was already a strong reason for the 
others to patronise and adopt it. The result was not long in 
showing itself. 

560 Jsceliclsm amongst Mahometan Nations, 

Zaous, Abou Abd er- Rahman, of Persian origin, but bom 
in the Yemen, led the way. He had passed his early youth in 
the society of Zein el Abidin, the son of Hasan, and grandson of 
All, and the first of that family who embodied in his manner of 
life, as in his writings, those mystical ideas and austere practices 
"which afterwards distinguished the race. Abou-Horeirah, the 
devoutest of Mahomet's own companions, and Ebn Abbas, re- 
nowned for his reHgious lore and unreproached conduct, were 
also his masters. He took up his abode at Mecca, and there dis- 
tinguished himself by the severity of his life as w^ell as by the 
peculiarity of his dress, having adopted the high w^oollen cap, the 
soufi, whence in process of time arose the title of Soufi, given 
to ascetics of his class, as well as the long and patched garment 
entitled the khirkah, distinctive of the future brotherhood. ]\Iecca 
was no longer the abode of the Caliphs, or centre of government. 
The death of Othman, in transferring the supreme power to Ali, 
had given the rank of capital in the Mahometan world for a mo- 
ment to Coufa ; and later still the family of Ommiah had fixed 
their royal residence at Damascus. But it was still the centre 
of religious feeling, and crowds of pilgrims from all parts of the 
empire, and especially from Pesra, Balkh, Bokhara, and their 
neighbourhood, tiirouged its streets, or adopted there a more 
permanent dwelling. Among these Zaous soon found numerous 
disciples and imitators, whom he admitted to that secret doc- 
trine which he had learned from the grandson of Ali, while the 
•uninitiated crowd contented themselves with admiring his long 
prayers, his fasts, and extreme poverty, and above all his open 
contempt for all worldly dignity and rank. Of these ^'irtues 
many examples are recorded in his history, as we have it from 
numerous authors of a later date; but we must exclude them 
from this narrative. Zaous died in the 102d year of the Maho- 
metan era, but not without leaving many and zealous successors 
in Mecca itself, besides those who carried back to their own 
native countries the memory and imitation of their master. 

One of the most distinguished of these was Hasan Yesar, like 
Zaous, of Persian origin, but born like him in Arabia, at the 
town of Medinah, where his mother had been brought as a cap- 
tive and sold to 0mm Salma, one of the numerous wives of the 
Prophet. Arrived at man's estate, and having received his 
liberty, he retired to Basra on the Persian Gulf, a town well 
known for its attachment to the family of Ali and their doc- 
trines, and henceforth a stronghold of the ascetic sect. Here he 
lived undisturbed, though his open disavowal of the reigning 
family of Ommiah exposed him to some danger, against which, 
however, the popular veneration proved his safeguard. During 


Jsceticism amongst Mahometan Nations, 561 

the reign of Yejid, son of Maaowlah, founder oftheOmraiade 
dynasty, he gave public proof of his politico-religious opinions. 
This caliph having nominated Omar-Ebn Hobeirah governor 
of the province, this last sent for Hasan Yesar, along with several 
individuals renowned for learning and piety in the town of Basra, 
to consult them, whether feignedly or not, on the validity of his 
appointment by Yejid. The companions of Hasan gave a courtly 
and temporising answer. Hasan kept silence till pressed to speak. 
He replied, " Son of Hobeirah, God makes light of Yejid, but 
Yejid cannot make light of God; for God can protect you against 
Yejid, and Yejid cannot protect you from God; yet know the 
time is nigh when God will send against you an angel to make 
you descend from your throne, and to drag you from your 
spacious castle to a narrow tomb; and then naught can save 
you except your owm works, O son of Hobeirah. But if you 
needs must disobey God, know that God ordained human 
power as a means of defence to His religion and to His ser- 
vants. And how can you abuse God-ordained power to oppress 
that religion and the servants of God ? No creature can exact 
as obedience disobedience to the Creator." The new governor 
trembled, and abstained from reply or comment. 

One of Hasan's favourite sayings was, " I never knew an 
undoubted certainty liker among men to an uncertain doubt 
than death." His life proved his own freedom from the general 
illusion; and his death, w^hlch occurred in the year 110 of the 
Hejira, was cheered by visions of glory. 

Another of the disciples of Zaous, named Abou Mohammed 
Ata, a Negro and a slave by birth, coeval with Hasan, inhabited 
Mecca, where he is said to have exercised a great influence over 
the pilgrims to that town. But a certain tendency to practical 
immorality, not uncommon in overstrained mysticism, appears 
to have betrayed itself in his teachings. We shall meet with 
striking examples of this hereafter. However, Mecca and Me- 
dlnah were too near to Syria, and the influence of the Ommiade 
dynasty, to be suitable localities for the permanent residence of 
the doctors of the new school. As the distinction between the 
east and the west of the Mahometan empire became more and 
more marked, the lines of orthodox sensualism and of ambiguous 
or heterodox mysticism were more fully drawn out ; and while 
the west appeared awhile as the stronghold of the former, the 
east gave a ready shelter to the latter. Mecca alone continued 
to form a sort of exception, the pilgrimage uniting there all the 
various schools of doctrine and their teachers, especially during 
the annual solemnities attending the pilgrimage ; and thus the 
place continued a centre of meeting, though no longer of habi- 
tation, to the ascetic faction. 

562 Asceticism amongst Mahometan Nations. 

Basra was now their head-quarters. For a full century we 
shall find it such, till the dynasty of the Moghrebins and Fati- 
mites in Africa and Egypt at last rendered Cairo in the west 
much what Basra had been at the outset in the east. But this 
was yet to come. 

Malik Ebn Dinar, a Persian and a slave by birth, adorned 
by his virtues, amongst which the love of manual labour, united 
with its sister-qualities of poverty and humility, was eminently 
conspicuous, next appeared as chief among the ascetics of his 
age. He flourished in the second century of Islam, and enjoyed 
the friendship and esteem of the personages then most noted 
for learning or piety. His frequent citations of the Bible might 
almost give rise to a suspicion of Christian tendencies, or at least 
warrant the belief that he counted among his masters in the 
mystic school others than Zaous and the inhabitants of Mecca. 
He died at Basra in the year 131 of the Hejirah. 

Not less celebrated in his day was Omar Abou Othman, 
born in the Hedjaz, but, like most of those above mentioned, of 
Persian origin. He also inhabited Basra, and was a disciple of 
Hasan Yesar, who described him as one worthy of angels and 
prophets for preceptors and guides, — one who never exhorted 
save to what he had first put in practica, nor deterred from any 
thing except what he inviolably abstained from. Like his master, 
he possessed an admirable freedom of spirit in his intercourse 
with the great, whose proffers he steadily refused to accept, and 
an extreme affability towards the poor. He was a vigorous as- 
sertor of the free-will of man against the predestinarian systems 
then developing into dogma. At his death he turned to one of 
the assistants, and said, " Death has come on me and found me 
unprepared ;" then, addressing himself to God, he added, " O 
Lord, thou knowest that I never had to choose between two 
things, — one according to thy good will, and the other pleasing 
to myself, — but I preferred thy good will to my own satisfaction, 
and now my hope is in thy mercy." He died in the 144th year 
of the Hejirah. 

About the same time Omar Abou Durr and Sofein Abou 
Abd Allah displayed — the one at Coufa, the other at Basra — 
similar examples of austerity and virtue. Hammad Abou 
Ismail, son of the celebrated Abou Hanifah, Abd Allah Me- 
rouji, and Moliammed Ebn es-Semmak, distinguished them- 
selves in the same region and by the same conduct. Ebn es- 
Semmak possessed a high degree of eloquence, and often spoke 
in public. Many of his sayings are preserved ; amongst which 
the sentence, " Fear God as though you had never obeyed Him, 
and hope in God as though you had never sinned against Him," 
may well be considered worthy of a Christian preacher. 

Asceticism amongst Mohametan Nations, 5QS 

But whether at Mecca or at Basra, the various ascetics above 
mentioned, and numerous others, especially in the second century 
of Islam, — here omitted for brevity's sake, — whatever personal 
influence they might exercise, or whatever virtues they might 
practise, had never formed a particular and distinct association 
or brotherhood. No common rule united them ; no one was in 
any rigorous sense superior or director of the rest ; they lived 
each according to his own special character; in a word, they were 
individuals, not an order or a body. But now appeared one 
who modified advantageously the character of their existence, 
and, by establishing a strict union and brotherhood among them, 
assured the permanence of their asceticism while he heightened 
their enthusiasm, developed their hitherto uncertain theory, 
and organised its practice, — the founder and father of the nu- 
merous Derviche family, the celebrated Fodheil Abou Ali Zali- 
kani. Born, like the greater number of those already mentioned, 
of Persian parents (he was a native of the province of Khoras- 
san), he had been in early youth a highway robber, and aban- 
doned to all the vices w^hich accompany such a mode of exist- 
ence. One night he had scaled the walls of a house where a 
girl of whom he was enamoured dwelt, and, concealed on the 
roof, awaited the moment to descend and gratify his passion. 
But while thus occupied he heard a voice repeating the well- 
known verse of the Coran : " Is it not high time for those who 
believe to open their hearts to compunction ?" *' Lord, it is high 
time indeed," replied Fodheil; and leaving the house, as w^ell 
as his evil design, he retired to a half-ruined caravansarai not 
far off, there to pass the rest of the night. Several travellers 
were at the moment lodged in the caravansarai ; and, concealed 
by the darkness, he overheard their conversation. "Let us 
start on our journey," said one ; and the others answered, " Let 
us wait till morning, for the robber Fodheil is out on the 
roads." This completed the conversion of the already repent- 
ant highwayman. He advanced towards the travellers, and, 
discovering himself to them, assured them that henceforth 
neither they nor any others should have ought to fear from him. 
He then stripped himself of his weapons and worldly gear, put 
on a patched and tattered garment, and passed the rest of his 
life in wandering from place to place, in the severest penitence 
and in extreme poverty, sometimes alone, sometimes with 
numerous disciples, whom he took under his direction, and 
formed into a strict and organised brotherhood. But with all 
his austerity of life, his prolonged fasts and watchings, his 
ragged dress and wearisome pilgrimages, he preferred the 
practice of interior virtue and purity of intention to all out- 
ward observances, and used often to say that " he who is modest 

VOL. lY. p p 

$6^ Asceticism amongst Mahometan Nations, 

and compliant to others, and lives in meekness and patience, 
gains a higher reward by so doing than if he fasted all his days, 
and watched in prayer all his nights/' At so high a price did he 
place obedience to a spiritual guide, and so necessary did he 
deem it, that he declared, " Had I a promise of whatever I 
should ask in prayer, yet would I not offer that prayer save in 
union with a superior." But his favourite virtue was the love 
of God in perfect conformity to His will, above all hope or fear. 
Thus when his only son — whose virtues resembled his ftither^s — 
died in early age, Fodheil was seen with a countenance of 
unusual cheerfulness ; and being asked by his intimate disciple 
Ragi Abou Ali, afterwards Kadhi of the town of Rei, the reason 
wherefore, he answered : " It was God's good pleasure, and it 
is therefore my good pleasure also.'' " To leave ought undone 
for the esteem of men is hypocrisy, and to do ought for their 
esteem is idolatry," were also his words. "Nay, much is he 
beguiled who serves God from fear or hope, for His true ser- 
vice is for mere love," and, speaking of himself, " I serve God 
because I cannot help serving Him for very love's sake," — are 
expressions of his more worthy in truth of admiration than of 
sinister comment. 

An often-repeated anecdote relating to this extraordinary 
man may here find place, though perhaps not unknown to some 
of our readers. Haroun er-Rashid, the celebrated Caliph of 
Bagdad, was on his way to Mecca. The road from Coufa to 
the gates of the sacred city had been strewn with the finest 
carpets; and whatever luxury and power could minister to 
lighten the fatigues of the pious but laborious journey sur- 
rounded the prince. While thus advancing by easy stages on 
his ornate way, he fell in with Fodheil, who, alone and on 
foot, according to his invariable custom, crossed his path. The 
Caliph, already acquainted with him, but desirous of yet 
further intimacy, detained the unwilling ascetic for some hours 
under a silken tent. After a long conversation, when the 
instances of Fodheil had at last procured him permission to 
depart, Haroun said to him, "Tell me, have you ever met 
with any one of greater detachment than yourself?" "Yes," 
answered Fodheil, "I have." "And who can that be?" re- 
joined the Caliph. "You yourself," answered the ascetic. 
" God bless us V said Haroun, in utter amazement ; " what do 
you mean ?'^ " Yes," answered Fodheil, " it is even so : your 
detachment is greater than mine ; for I have only detached my- 
self from this Avorld, which is little and perishable, while you, 
as it seems, have detached yourself from the next, which is 
immense and everlasting." But the life of Fodheil alone would, 
if given at length, suffice for a volume ; we pass over accord- 

Asceticism amongst Mahometan Nations. 565 

irigly innumerable doings and sayings of authentic record, as 
well as wonders and miracles of perhaps more equivocal authen- 
ticity, to continue the history of the master in some of his prin- 
cipal disciples. 

Fodheil died in the year 187 of the Hejira. In his lifetime 
the famous Ibrahim Ebn Adhem, son of noble parents, in the 
town of Balkh in Khorassan, had been his most cherished fol- 
lower and nearest imitator. Unlike his master, he had been 
remarkable for his pious inclinations from his earliest youth ; 
but it was under the direction of Fodheil that he abandoned his 
worldly hopes to enter on a life of poverty and humiliation. 
Seventeen times he went on pilgrimage to Mecca across the 
whole breadth of the Arabian peninsula, without guide or pro- 
visions, putting his trust in God alone. It is said that, being 
once on the point of perishing with thirst in the sandy desert, 
he begged of God a draught of water, and immediately an angel 
stood before him with a full pitcher in his hand. But Ebn 
Adhem repented of his over-haste in demanding this solace, and 
requested the angel only to pour the water over his burning 
head instead of giving it him to drink. The angel complied, 
and at the same instant his thirst and weariness vanished, and 
so he arrived safely at his journey's end. 

Returned to his native town, as he passed through the streets 
in beggar's guise, a soldier who had known him in wealth and 
nobility, irritated at seeing him thus, as he thought, disgrace his 
family, met him mid-way and struck him on the face. " God 
bless you,'' said Ibrahim, and continued his way without other 
notice. But the soldier, emboldened by his forbearance, followed 
him in the crowd, and struck him again yet more brutally. 
Ibrahim gave the same answer ; and when the soldier repeated 
the insult a third time, " God bless you" was still the reply. 
But the arm of the soldier was suddenly paralysed, and he fell 
on the ground in convulsions. The bystanders, witnesses of the 
outrage and of its consequences, broke out into half-adoring 
admiration of the patient ascetic. But he, unwilling to receive 
their honours, fled, and did not stay till he joined next day a 
band of his companions, disciples of Fodheil, like himself, out- 
side the town. They, supposing that the punishment of the 
soldier (who had meantime, however, been restored to health) 
was the result of a curse from Ibrahim, received him with re- 
proaches. "You have made a most unnecessary display, and 
have disgraced the ascetic garment," said they. "Not I," 
answered Ibrahim. " God is my witness I only prayed to Him 
for good ; but the Master of the face was jealous over it as His 
own;" implying that God had taken his cause in hand, and 
regarded the insult given him as addressed to Himself 

566 Asceticism amongst Mahometan Nations. 

This forbearance under injury, and reluctance to have" their 
right manifested before men, is one of the most prominent fea- 
tures in the disciples of Fodheil. A young man among his 
followers, whose name is not recorded, was, according to a 
celebrated writer, on his way in the desert, along with several 
worldly companions — merchants, soldiers, &c. They showed 
him much ill-will, and he bore it patiently. At last, one day 
they came to a well, whose scanty waters could only be reached 
by a bucket attached to a long rope. When all had satisfied 
their thirst, the young ascetic approached to quench his own. 
But one of the bystanders struck the bucket from his hand with 
such violence that it slipped from the noose, and fell to the 
bottom of the well. The disciple of Fodheil hid his face between 
his hands, thanking God for this severe mortification. But a 
noise and shaking like that of a distant earthquake was heard 
and felt, and the water rose in the well till it reached the rim, 
bearing the bucket along with it. The ascetic fled from the 
admiration of men, and did not again appear during the journey. 
Beturned to Damascus some months after, one of the merchants 
saw the same youth stretched on a heap by the roadside in utter 
destitution and misery. " Are not you he," said the merchant, 
" at whose prayer the w^ell filled with water ? and whence now 
this wretched condition?" "Were it not for such abasement 
as this I had not found such honour," answered the dying 
youth. We have selected this one among hundreds of parallel 

Ibrahim el Adhem died before his master. But the main 
work was done; and the ascetic impulse, now embodied in at 
hierarchical form, had nothing to fear from the loss of any single 
individual, however eminent. 

After the death of Fodheil we find the supreme direction 
of the brotherhood confided to Bischar el Hafi, njitive of Meron, 
and inhabitant of Bagdad. When young he had, like Fodheil, 
led a reckless life, till one day walking in the streets he saw 
written on a piece of paper, torn and trampled on by the feet of 
the passers-by, the name of God. He picked it up and, having 
cleaned it to the best of his ability, took it home and placed it 
out of the reach of further profanation. The same night he 
heard a voice saying to him, " Bischar, thou hast honoured my 
name, and I will accordingly render thy name honourable in 
this world and in that to come.^' He awoke from sleep a changed 
man, and began a new life of penance and virtue. 

The name *' Hafi" signifies barefoot It was given him on 
the following occasion. One of his shoes having given way, he 
took it to a cobbler to get it repaired. But the artisan, thinking 
the work hardly worth doing (in which he was probably not far 

Asceticism amongst Mahometan Nations. 567 

wrong), answered him with an angry *^ What a plague you are 
with your shoe ! is it worth while troubling a man about that ?" 
Bischar threw away on the spot both that which he held in his 
hand and the other from his foot, and never wore shoes again. 
His fast was so severe that he would not even touch food that 
had any thing of man's preparation in it. His greatest trial was 
from the veneration of men : " O God,^' he used to say, ** save 
me from this honour, the requital of which may perchance be 
confusion in another life." He died about the beginning of the 
third century of the Hejira. 

A little before this a remarkable example of the power of 
the ascetic impulse over the human mind had been given in the 
person of Ahmed, the third son of Haroun er-Raschid, This 
lad — for he was at the time only sixteen or seventeen years of 
age — after a childhood passed in resisting the seductions of his 
father's splendid court, suddenly abandoned the palace and the 
capital, and hid himself in Basra, where for a long while he 
eluded his father's anxious search. Disguised as a mason, he 
lived among the day-labourers of the town, and passed about 
three years in the most entire detachment from all that the 
world can offer ; what little remained from the wages of his 
labour he gave to the poor, and never reserved any thing from 
one day to the next. When near twenty years of age he fell 
ill, and, unwilling even then to seek human help, or to discover 
his real name (he had borne the assumed title of Gherib, i.e. the 
stranger), he wasted away, abandoned by all, at the entrance of 
the cemetery of the town, stretched on a piece of old matting, 
with a stone for pillow. When at the point of death, he sent for 
a wealthy inhabitant who had once shown him kindness, and 
gave him a precious jewel, which he had borne about him in 
secret, the gift of his mother Zobeidah to him when a child. 
This, without any explanation or disclosure of his real quality, 
he gave to his friend, telling him to bear it to the Caliph at 
Bagdad, and to add that he who sent it wished him at his last 
hour such happiness as he himself now enjoyed. He then re- 
mained in silent prayer a few hours, and died ; he was buried 
among the poor in the common cemetery. When his father 
and mother had recognised the token of this new Alexis, they 
wept bitterly. But the Caliph said, " I weep not for him, but for 
myself; the gainer is my son, the loser I." He then visited 
his burying-place at Basra, and caused a magnificent monument 
to be erected on the spot. 

Before closing the series of detailed narration (which if 
•carried on for the following centuries would lead us too far), we 
must mention yet one more hero of asceticism, remarkable for 
having laid in Egypt the foundations of this mystic school, of 

568 Asceticism amongst Mahometan Nations, 

which he was one of the brightest ornaments, as well as for 
having been the first to undergo that persecution which after- 
wards cost the lives of many. It is indeed wonderful how such 
persecution, though often threatened, had not yet in fact reached 
those whose whole lives, not to say their doctrines (of which 
more hereafter, but they were secret as yet) were an open 
disavowal of, nay a contradiction to, the teaching and examples 
of the Prophet. Abou el Faidh Thouban, more commonly 
known by the title of Dhou-el-Noun, of Nubian descent, offers 
at the beginning of the third century so wondrous a history of 
superhuman virtues and supernatural prodigies, that we are com- 
pelled to acknowledge the Egyptian equal or superior to any of his 
Persian predecessors or contemporaries. He visited many lands, 
and never took with him any provision for his journey; confidence 
in God and contempt of the world were his favourite virtues. 

At this time Cairo, had become, what it still is, one of the 
most vicious as well as one of the most populous cities of the 
East. Dhou-el-jN'oun signalised himself by his open rebuke of 
the vices of the inhabitants, and especially of the local go- 
vernors, who caused him to be often beaten and imprisoned, 
a conduct which only drew from him expressions of resignation 
and joy. " All this is as nothing so I be not separated from 
Thee, my God," was his exclamation while dragged through 
the crowded street, with blows and insults by the soldiers of the 
garrison. He was even sent, as guilty of treason and heresy, — 
an accusation which his disavowal of the existing Caliphate in 
the person of Motawakhel Billah, and his mystical doctrines 
might seem to justify, — to Bagdad, then the seat of government. 
But when led before the Caliph he spoke with such vigour and 
unction on the necessity of repentance and the vanity of the 
world, that Motawakhel caused his chains to be struck off, and 
sent him back with esteem and safe-conduct to Egypt. Three 
things he daily asked of God in prayer. The first was never to 
have any certainty of his means of subsistence for the morrow. 
The second was never to be in honour among men. And the third 
and last was to see God's face in mercy at his death-hour. Near 
the end of his life, one of his more intimate disciples ventured 
to question him on this triple prayer, and what had been its 
result. " As for the first and second petitions," answered Dhou- 
el-Noun, " God has liberally granted them, and I trust in His 
goodness that He will not refuse me the third." He died in the 
year 245, and his tomb is still an object of popular veneration 
at Cairo. But his disciples continued his work; and a new and 
vigorous centre of asceticism was thus permanently establislied 
in Egypt, and soon became connected with the yet austerer 
schools of Africa and the West. 


Asceticism amongst Mahometan Nations, 569 

Between this century and the next, two events occurred of 
great importance to the disciples of the mystic school. We 
have seen their gradual progress from the state of separate 
and disconnected individuals to that of united bands or com- 
panies under a single head, and acknowledging a supreme re- 
ligious authority quite independent of caliph, doctor, or imam. 
Yet they had hitherto no common dwelling or fixed meeting- 
place in the towns they frequented ; nay, this erratic and un- 
stable kind of life seemed to them most in accordance wdth the 
extreme poverty and detachment which they professed. It was 
also in some part owing to the strong Arab tinge of character 
which pervaded them ; for although most of them were, as we 
have already seen, of Persian or Ethiopian parentage, yet many 
of them had been born in, and all inhabited, countries where the 
Arab language and population prevailed ; and their pilgrimages 
to Mecca doubtless yet further fostered this tendency. But the 
Persian character is of a more domiciliary cast ; and there could 
be little doubt that the ascetics inhabiting the eastern provinces 
would sooner or later settle in what w^e may here call, for Avant 
of a better name, convents or monasteries. While those pro- 
vinces continued under Arab government, such a measure could 
hardly have been tolerated. But already the great empire of 
the Abbaside Caliphs was falling into decay, and the tributary 
dynasty of the Samanide princes, founded about the year 260 
of the Hejira by Ismail es-Samani, soon extended from Bokhara 
over the neighbouring regions of Balkh, Samarcand, and Kho- 
rassan, and became a true Persian government, dependent in 
little more than name on the Arab Caliph of Bagdad. 

All the princes of the Samanide race were remarkable foi 
their patronage of learning and piety. But Nasser Ebn Ahmed, 
third in the royal succession, signalised himself by his love of 
retirement and religious meditation. He founded an oratory 
at Bokhara for that purpose ; and it soon became the resort of 
numerous ascetics. Other similar buildings arose throughout 
the kingdom ; and the Derviches of the East now took on them 
their permanent name and manner of life. 

The second event which signalised this era was the outbreak 
of open heterodoxy in the ascetic faction. From the very out- 
set their tenets had been opposed, like their practice, to the 
prevailing system. But few and scattered amidst an immense 
population, still in all the fresh vigour of fanaticism, they found 
concealment of these tenets absolutely necessary. Thus Ali 
Zein el Abidin, grandson of the famous Ali, and grand -master, 
€0 to speak, of the secret sect, says of himself, in verses pre- 
served to our day, — he was no mean poet, — what we give in as 
faithful a translation as we can ; 

570 Asceticism amongst Mahometan Nations, 

"Above all things I conceal the precious jewel of my knowledge. 
Lest the uninitiated should behold it, and be bewildered ; 
Ah, how many a rare jewel of this kind, should I openly display it, 
Men would say to me, * Thou art one of the worshippers of idols j' 
And zealous Muslims would set my blood at price. 
Deeming the worst of crimes an acceptable and virtuous action." 

Such were the fears and such the conduct of his disciples or 
imitators for two centuries. But once numerous, and having 
learned their strength from their union, they began to think 
concealment less necessary, and at last aspired to substitute 
their dogmas for those of Islam. 

They had indeed borrowed much, as far as doctrine went, 
from the old Persian creed, and yet more from the Christian. 
The ideas of a radiant Divinity mediating between the Supreme 
Fountain-head of being and the created world ; of an all-per- 
vading Spirit whose manifestation was in love ; of detachment 
from material and visible objects; of poverty, humility, and 
obedience as the true path to God ; the belief even in Divine 
Incarnation and a Deity as man conversing with men ; — these 
ideas, if not absolutely derived from Christianity, were at least 
fostered by it and near of kin. Other more pantheistic ten- 
dencies, such as Divine absorption, universal manifestation of 
the Deity under the seeming appearances of limited forms, the 
final return of all things to the unity of God, a tendency some- 
times also to regard matter as intrinsically impure and evil, 
and in certain instances an absolute reprobation of marriage, 
united again, as might be anticipated, with monstrous and 
shameful sensuality, — were to be remarked especially in those 
whose habitation as well as their origin attached them to the 
old Persian traditions, whence a considerable share of these 
tenets doubtless originated. The Arabs dwelling in brother- 
hood were nearer to Christianity ; the Persian to the teaching 
of Zoroaster or Manes. 

Meanwhile a continual, though often repressed, effort per- 
vaded the East to throw off the rule of the Ommiade or Ab- 
baside Caliphs, and to substitute for them the real or pretended 
descendants of Ali. The history of the Khowaridj, of the Is- 
mailiens, of the Rowafidhs, continued in later times by the 
Fatimites of Egypt, by the Druses, and by the Soufi dynasty of 
Persia, affords at once the evidence and the result of this effort. 
With this the ascetic movement often blended; and thus the over- 
throw of the family and religion of Mahomet, in order to substi- 
tute in its place that of Ali, or some new system of the mystics 
themselves, became a scheme common and familiar to all. 

Accordingly, while the political rebels attacked the govern- 
ment by open force, the mystics undermined its religious hold 
on the people, at first in secret, at last with more daring pub- 

Asceticism amongst Mahometan Nations, 571 

licity. And though their reputation, often well deserved, of 
high personal virtue, nay miraculous sanctity, screened them at 
times from orthodox severity, yet they not unfrequently fell its 
victims. Thus perished at Bagdad, in the year 309 of the Hejira, 
Hosain Abou Meghith el Halladj, though not till after he had 
founded a new and well-defined school of doctrine, destined to 
count among its professors in later times three names of gigantic 
reputation and influence in the East, — the ascetic Abd-el-Kadir 
el Ghilani, the doctor Mohi ed-Din Ebn-Aarabi el Moghrebi, 
and the poet Omar Ebn el Faridh, author of the celebrated 
Divan, unrivalled in depth and beauty, which bears his name. 

Hosain el Halladj was a native of Baidha, a village near 
Schiraz, but educated in the province of Irak, in the neigh- 
bourhood of Coufa. Thence he came to Bagdad, where, like 
other ascetics of his age, he lived by the labour of his hands, 
and became a disciple of Djenid Abou Kasim, equally famous 
for sanctity and mysticism in that town, though of most ques- 
tionable orthodoxy. But Halladj soon outdid his master in every 
way. His fasts were prolonged to three or four continuous days, 
and were accompanied by ecstasies, in which he was often said 
to be seen raised from the earth and surrounded with light. In 
this state he often gave utterance to strange expressions, denot- 
ing an intimate union with the Deity ; and the verses he com- 
posed in his calmer moments have not unfrequently the same 
purport. Such are these : 

*',I am He whom I love, and He whom I love is I ; 
We are two spirits, inhabiting one outward frame : 
And when you behold me, you behold Him, 
And when you behold Him, you behold us twain." 

He taught the freedom of the human will, and denied the pre- 
destinarian system of Islam, on which he wrote the following 
bitter satire, in verses of no ordinary beauty, and frequently 
repeated in the East, but under breath, to the present day. We 
have often heard them thus : 

" What can man do, if the decrees of predestination surround him, 
Binding him in his every state ? answer me, learned professor. 
He {i. e. as if He, that is God) cast him into the ocean, bound hand 

and foot, and then said to him, 
Woe to you, woe to you, should you get wet with the water." 

He it is who thus in his verse addresses God : 

" I love Thee with a twofold love, the love of friendship. 
And the love grounded on this alone, that Thou art worthy of it. 
But as to that my love which is the love of friendship, 
It is a love which leaves me no thought for any save Thee ; 
And as to the love of Thee according to Thy worthiness, 
raise from betwixt us the veil, that I may behold Thee. 
Nor is any praise due to me either for this or for that (love), 
But to Thee alone the praise both for this and that." 

572 Asceticism amongst Mahometan Nations, 

His life was in accordance with his sentiments, and never had 
a master more entire command over the love and veneration 
of his disciples. 

But at last his prolonged absence from the customary Maho- 
metan prayers, his neglect of the sacred pilgrimage, joined to a 
strong suspicion that his covert doctrine was nothing else than 
a form of Christianity, excited the suspicions of the more or- 
thodox teachers of the town ; and perhaps their jealousy of his 
superior popularity might coincide with their doctrinal zeal. 
He was accused of affecting divine honours, and in spite of the 
utter want of proof was condemned to death in the 309th year 
of the Hejira. He was cruelly scourged, then his hands and 
feet were cut off, and last his head. His body was burned, and 
the ashes thrown into the Tigris. His last words were to 
exhort the countless spectators of his torments not to permit 
any unjust doubts of the Divine Providence to arise in their 
minds at such a spectacle ; " for," said he, " God herein treats 
me as a friend treats his friend, to whom he passes the cup of 
which he has first drunk himself.^^ The Christian sense of 
these words requires no comment. About the same time some 
of his companions met a similar fate. Others fled; and the 
mystic school of Bagdad was permanently transferred, at least 
in great measure, to Egypt and the West. 

It would be a long task to trace the lives and fortunes, to 
record the sayings and acts, of those who followed in their path. 
But before concluding this subject we must briefly mention 
three widely-famed personages who flourished in the sixth and 
seventh centuries of Islamism, and who gave their names to 
the three principal brotherhoods into which the ascetics of 
the countries where Arabic is spoken were henceforth divided. 
Their work has remained to this day. 

The first of these was Abd-el-Kadir el Ghilani. Born on 
the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, he came when yet 
young to Bagdad, where he often resided. Such was the 
austerity of his life, such the wonders attributed to him, such 
the sublimity of his doctrine, that he was looked on universally 
as the Kothb of his day. This name requires some brief expla- 

Long before this the mystics of the East had persuaded 
themselves that there existed on the earth, among the initiated 
(or illuminated, as they often called themselves), a secret 
hierarchy, on which they all depended, and in whose obedience 
and instructions they learned and followed the truth, unknown 
to the uninitiated crowd around them. Of this hierarchy the 
supreme dignity was supposed to be vested in the Khidr. This 
was a man indeed, but one far elevated above ordinary human 

Asceticism amongst Mahometan Nations. 573 

nature by his transcendent privileges. Admitted to the Divine 
Vision, and possessed in consequence of a relative omnipotence 
and omniscience on earth ; visible or invisible at pleasure ; freed 
from the bonds of space and time ; by a sort of ubiquity and 
immortality appearing in various forms on earth to uphold the 
cause of truth ; then concealed awhile from men ; known in 
various ages as Seth, as Enoch, as Elias, and yet to comei at 
the end of time as the Mahdi el Montager (the expected guide); 
— this wonderful being was the centre, the prop, the ruler, the 
mediator of the ascetic band, and as such honoured with the 
name of Kothb, or axis, as being the spiritual pole round which 
and on which all moved or were upheld. Under him were the 
Aulia, or intimate friends of God, seventy- two in number (though 
some restrict them to narrower limits, twenty-four, for example), 
holy men living on earth, who were admitted by the Kothb to 
his intimate familiarity, and who were to the rest the sources of 
all doctrine, authority, and sanctity. Among these again one, 
preeminent above the rest, was qualified by the vicarious title of 
Kothb-ez-zaman, or axis of his age, and was regarded as the 
visible depositary of the knowledge and power of the supreme 
Kothb — who was often named, for distinction-sake, Kothb el- 
Akthab, or axis of the axes — and his constant representative 
amongst men. But as this important election and consequent 
delegation of powder was invisible and hidden from the greater 
number even of the ascetics themselves, — and neither the Kothb- 
ez-zaman nor the Aulia bore any outward or distinctive sign 
of dignity and authority, — it could only be manifested by its 
effects, and thus known by degrees to the outer world, and 
even then rather as a conjecture than as a positive certainty. 

But that Abd-el-Kadir el Ghilani was the Kothb of his 
time no one doubted, and as such he announced himself un- 
hesitatingly in his moments of religious excitement, though 
at others he strove to conceal himself under the veil of a 
mean and despicable appearance. However, in his quality of 
Kothb he founded the brotherhood of the Kaderieh, or, as we 
should say, the Order of Abd-el-Kadir, and gave them for 
device or banner, to use their own term, poverty and abase- 
ment. The association counted in its ranks some of the great- 
est names of eastern honour in mystic and poetic literature, 
— Mohi ed Din Ebn Aarabi in Syria, and Omar Ebn el Faridh 
in Egypt. Both belonged to this brotherhood. Their doctrine 
was that of Hosein el Halladj, whom Abd-el-Kadir taught 
them to look on as their master, though it w^as often veiled 
by them under a seemingly orthodox terminology ; and their 
austerity and contempt of the world gave them a great influ- 
ence over the mass of the people. They subsist to this day. 

574 Asceticism amojigst Mahometan Nations, 

A little later, but in the same century as Abd-el-Kadir, i.e, the 
sixth, Ahmed Ebn Refalii, in the desert in the neighbourhood of 
Basra, founded a second and yet stranger order of ascetics. Their 
wandering habits and half-savage life distinguish them from 
the calmer and more social Kaderieh; and it is from this brother- 
hood that many of those half-juggler, half-enthusiast associa- 
tions have sprung, of which travellers in the East have many 
tales to relate. They are somewhat ill-looked on by the more 
learned or more right-judging classes of men; yet their enthu- 
siasm, as well as their extravagant feats, often procure them 
the admiration of the populace. Ahmed el Refaai died near 
Basra in the year 575 of the Hejirah. 

Somewhat later still, — that is, towards the beginning of the 
seventh century, — the Scheikh Ali Abou-1-Hasan Esh-Shadheli 
appeared in Egypt and in the Yemen, and gave rise to the 
confraternity of the Shadhelieh. Calm, modest, studious, and 
fond of retirement, yet of great courtesy to those who visited 
or consulted him, he instilled the same spirit into his numer- 
ous disciples, and it still distinguishes his followers. A marked 
propensity to associate with Christians, and an open approval 
of many points in their religion, have in our own days drawn 
on them the ill-will of the Turkish government. Their number 
is very considerable ; and they show more vitality than either of 
the two preceding brotherhoods. 

These three associations are again subdivided into many and 
distinct bands, each of which bears the name of its founder or 
first director. Some, and especially the Refaaiyeh, distinguish 
themselves by their very peculiar dress and high woollen cap ; 
others, like the Shadhelieh, by the string of beads : all possess 
the long robe, or khirkah, peculiar to the ascetic profession, and 
mentioned at the beginning of this article; but they do not 
always wear it in the crowd, especially the Kaderieh, who are 
bound to avoid whatever might have an air of ostentation or 
draw on them general notice. 

As for the Persian Derviches, separated more and more by 

Eolitical and religious division from their Western brethren, they 
ave ended by having little in common with them; while the 
pantheistic teaching so prevalent in the East is constantly dis- 
avowed by the followers of Abd-el-Kadir, the Refaai, and the 
Schadheli, though their disavowal has not always sufficed to 
save the Kaderieh from all suspicion on this very head ; while 
the Schadhelieh are in their turn accused of pan-religionism, 
not entirely, it may be, without reason. 

Yet, amid all the decline brought on the East by Ottoman 
misrule, amid all the jarring and ungenial influences that have 
ruined and laid bare those once populous and flourishing re- 

Asceticism amongst Mahometan Nations, 575 

gions, amid bitter bigotry within and Western materialism 
from without, and mere anarchy every where, they still subsist, 
still maintain much of their old doctrines and their hereditary 
practices. What revivals or decay they have gone through, 
what more noted examples of austerity and virtue they have 
afforded, how far prevailing modifications of creed and thought 
among the masses have reacted on them also, to what degree 
the Naksch-bundi association, that freemasonry of the East, has 
found its way among them, — all this would form the subject of 
an interesting enquiry which we have not space to pursue here. 
For the same reason we must abstain from attempting a full 
analysis of their doctrine, theoretical or practical, setting in full 
light what is its connection with, what its opposition to, the 
Islam of Mahomet. And we can only allude, in passing, to the 
double symbolism whereby the highest and most spiritual mys- 
teries of asceticism were often veiled under the semblance of 
human personages and passions, or the dogmas and the teachers 
most hostile to Mahometism made to assume the sound or ap- 
pearance of orthodox nomenclature or characters. Thus Mecca 
and Mahomet, the Prophet's sepulchre or the victory of Bedr, 
are the apparent themes of eulogium or veneration ; but it is 
another Mahomet than he of the Hedjaz, another Mecca, and 
another Bedr. Thus they strove, not without frequent success, 
to penetrate the enemy's camp in his own dress and likeness ; 
and while regarded by all around them as friends, they dealt 
deadly blows and did the work of destruction, themselves 
secure : never less orthodox in Islam than when they appeared 
most so. This subject alone would suffice for an ample treatise. 
But any one who has paid attention to the facts we have already 
described can form, if not a complete picture, at least a certain 
outline of this view. We have not pointed out the resemblance 
step by step, the counterpart, or the antithesis thus afforded to 
the development of asceticism in Christian nations. Some such 
parallelism, however, must naturally suggest itself to an atten- 
tive reader; and we therefore laid down at the outset certain 
principles which seemed proper to lessen unmeaning wonder, or 
obviate unseasonable scandal. Fuller knowledge solves many 

Another point of great interest which a fuller narrative and 
deeper investigation might fairly bring to light we have here 
advisedly passed over. But those, though they are few in 
number, who can throw themselves into the feelings of other 
nations than their own, may gather from what we have said 
some conclusions both as to what arms Eastern Mahometanism 
may justly fear, and under what form or by what line of con- 
duct Christianity might find its way, and become once more 

576 Asceticism amongst Mahometan Nations, 

dominant, in Arab lands. Perhaps we have sufficiently indi- 
cated the only efficacious measures towards such an end, as well 
as their cost. But modern Europe is little likely to give to the 
East, even in such a cause, new Fodheils or Halladjs. At any 
rate, it is easy to see how little adapted to success are the means 
hitherto, generally at least, adopted ; and why European luxury 
and commerce can make, indeed has already made, in the East, 
a certain number of infidels, countless embittered enemies, but 
no Christians, 

[ 577 ] 


The investigator of the early Teutonic colonisation of England 
finds in diticrent parts of the enquiry counterbalancing aids 
and privations. To the south of the island is mainly confined 
that help to\yards elucidating its early history which is de- 
rivable from the collection of grant-deeds and charters known 
as the Codex Diplomaticus ^Evi Saxonici. The six northern 
counties, on the other hand, or Northumbria, can point to 
the illustrious Northumbrian writer of the eighth century, the 
greatest literary light of the dark ages^ whose works supply far 
more information bearing on their annals than on those of the 
southern counties. It is to the colonisation of these northern 
counties that we desire now to draw attention. They were 
settled under circumstances in many respects exceptional, the 
detailed examination of which promises to open an extremely 
interesting and but partially explored field. Not that there is 
any lack of works upon the early history and antiquities of 
every one of these counties, taken separately. But in the 
Saxon times Northumbria formed, ordinarily at least, one po- 
litical whole, and its history ought therefore to be similarly 
treated. To treat of the early state of the north of England 
merely in its connection with the separate modern counties which 
compose it, can only lead to a fragmentary and unsatisfying 
knowledge. Again, in regular histories of England, it is sur- 
prising how little pains have been expended — apparently from 
the belief that the subject is too unimportant to require it — 
upon the construction of a really critical account of the political 
and social development of the different Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, 
Northumbria included. Even Lingard slides without misgiving 
over the most palpable difficulties, and often presents us with a 
narrative which, under the mask of a rhetorical and apparent 
coherency, conceals improbabilities of the gravest kind. Sir 
Francis Palgrave leaves gaps both in his reasoning and his 
narrative, and falls besides into downright blunders. Turner's 
is still the most valuable history in our language for those 
times ; but besides his inability to appreciate the religious ele- 
ment in Saxon society, he falls into errors from the want of 
adherence to those rigid critical principles by which the pre- 
sent generation has learned both to discriminate between the 
value of different documents, and to search out the criteria of 
historic truth among collateral sources of information of aU 

578 Colonisation of Northumhria. 

kinds, many of which the historian of the old school never 
dreamed of consulting. 

The objects of the present paper are: 1. to describe the 
Teutonic colonisation of Northumbria, showing the lines along 
which it proceeded, and the checks and reverses which it sus- 
tained, distinguishing between the Angle and Danish or Nor- 
wegian operations ; and 2. to explain, as far as possible, the cir- 
cumstances and conditions under which the six northern counties 
were brought to their present forms and boundaries. 

It is usual to commence the history of the Angle kingdoms 
north of the H umber with Ida, who, according to the Saxon 
Chronicle, began to reign in Northumbria in the year 547, 
having his royal residence at Bamborough. Upon this view, 
colonisation would have begun in Northumberland sooner than 
in Yorkshire. This, however, seems improbable, for geographical 
and other reasons. Such a tempting harbour as the mouth of 
the Humber would not surely have been neglected by the Angle 
adventurers, in favour of the exposed and dangerous coast of 
Northumberland. But we are not without some positive evi- 
dence. Nennius, or whoever was the author of the Historia 
Britonum, says that Seomil, the sixth in descent from Woden, 
''first separated^' (there is a various reading which has "con- 
quered'^) '' Deur from Berneich,'' that is, Deira from Bernicia.^ 

* Upon the authorship of the Historia Britonum the reader may consult Mr. 
Stevenson's edition of Nennius, and the remarks by Mr. Duffus Hardy in the 
Introduction to the Monumenta Historica Britannica. The question is one of 
the most difficult within the range of historical and bibliographical criticism. 
Mr. Duffus Hardy comes to the conclusion that we must be content to consider 
the Historia Britonum as an anonymous production. As to the two prologues, 
he seems to regard the second, or shorter one, as an abbreviated and later ver- 
sion of the first. The following view, which cannot here, however, be supported 
by all the proofs and illustrations which are capable of being adduced, seems, 
on the whole, to embrace the leading probabilities of the case. 

1. The second prologue is not an abbreviation of the first ; on the contrary, 
the first is a rhetorical amplification of the second. Let any one carefully com- 
pare the two together, and judge for himself. Besides the internal evidence, 
upon which we cannot stop to enlarge, the evidence derived from the Mss. is 
important. The first prologue is only contained in a single Ms. of the twelfth 
century, that in the Public Library at Cambridge, the comparatively late date 
and unauthentic character of which Mr. Duffus Hardy admits ; while the second 
is contained in this and at least three other Mss., though, it is true, in a dif- 
ferent, if not later, handwriting. The twelfth century was a period in which 
historians emulously affected the graces of style; among the English appeared 
William of Malmesbury, and among the Britons, or Welsh, Geoffrey of Mon- 
mouth and Caradoc of Llancarvan ; and it may be conjectiu-ed that the copyist 
of the Cambridge Ms., finding a prologue written in a bald awkward style, 
determined to reproduce it under a more ornate and flowing garb, and that to 
this determination we owe the first prologue. Tlie mistake in the date which 
the soi-disant author assigns to the composition of this prologue (Mcrvin being 
named as reigning in Wales in 858 instead of Rodvi), inexplicable if we sup- 
pose the prologue to be genuine, becomes easily intelligible if we consider it to 
be a production of the twelfth century. 

2. The Historia Britonum is certainly not the work of Gildas, to whom 

The Colonisation of Northumbrian 579 

Ida, wlio founded the northern kingdom in 547, Nennius makes 
to have been the ninth in descent from Woden. It is clear, 
therefore, that in his conception, or rather in that of the Saxon 
annalist whom he is following, three generations intervened be- 
tween Seomil and Ida, or, say, about ninety years. Florence of 

Malmesbury and Huntingdon ascribe it. Gildas wrote in the middle of the 
sixth century, when the devastations of the Saxons had not yet in the west 
of Britain entirely destroyed the Roman culture, nor utterly disorganised the 
system of education which had prevailed under the empire. Gildas writes like 
a man whose mind was teeming with thoughts, and who had sufficient intel- 
lectual resources to find for them copious and not ungraceful forms of expres- 
sion. Nothing can less resemble the energetic flow of his style than the 
awkward, hesitating, struggling progress made by the author of the Historia 

3. There seems no good reason to doubt that Nennius, the writer of the 
second or original prologue, also wrote the Historia Britonum^ excluding § 66 
(we refer to the edition in the Monumenta Historica), but including the genea- 
logies of the Saxon kings. The style of the second prologue perfectly agrees 
with that of the history. The genealogies (which contain many historical par- 
ticulars), though introduced without preface, and not interwoven in any way 
with the thread of the preceding narrative, do yet in fact fulfil the promise 
given in the prologue of making use of the ^nnaZ* of the Saxons, in order to 
augment his stock of information. Section 66 occurs only in the Cambridge 
Ms., and in others copied from that. It appears to have been inserted by the 
twelfth-century copyist as an abbreviated substitute for the genealogies, which 
he omits. He says : " Sed cum inutiles, magistro meo, id est, Beulano presby- 
tero, visse sunt gcnealogise Saxonum et aliarum gentium, nolui eas scribere." 
The great antiquity of these genealogies is proved by their occurrence in the 
valuable Harleian Ms. of the tenth century (3859), which, though it inserts 
neither prologues nor headings nor author's name, gives the Historia down to 
the end of § 65 nearly as the Cambridge Ms., and immediately, without any 
break, appends the genealogies. 

4. Assuming the second prologue to be genuine, Nennius, the author of this 
history, was a disciple of St. Elbotus. Now we know from the Annales Cam- 
bricE that St. Elbotus died in 809. Probably, therefore, the Historia was 
composed somewhere within the first forty years of the ninth century. AVe are 
disposed to assign its composition to the first decade of the century rather than 
to any later decade for this reason : the latest date traceable in the genealogies 
is found in the pedigree of the kings of Mercia, where " Egfert son of Otfa" 
is mentioned. This Egfert died in 794, and was succeeded by Kenwulf, who 
died in 819. Surely, then, the name of Kenwulf would have been added in 
the genealogy if it had been written subsequently to his death. 

5. What is the historical value of the genealogies? We are disposed to rate 
it very highly. They are contained, as has been stated, in a Ms. of the tenth 
century. Assuming them in their present form to have come from Nennius, 
they were written down early in the ninth century, that is, before the earliest 
known "redaction" of the Saxon Chronicle was prepared, under the superin- 
tendence of Archbishop Plegmund. But whether ascribable to Nennius or not, 
the internal evidence is in favour of their authenticity. For when we come to 
the mention of such a fact as this, that Edwin, king of Northumbria (617-633) 
'•seized on Elmete," a district in the West Riding, "and expelled Certic its 
king," — a fact mentioned neither byBede, nor by the Saxon Chronicle, nor any 
other annalist, but curiously confirmed, as will be shown in the text presently, 
by an incidental statement of Bede, — what conclusion is it possible to come to 
but that the British writer is here quoting the very words used by the Saxon, 
probably Northumbrian, annalist, whom he is consulting ? For what would a 
Briton be likely to know about the obscure district of Elmete, the very name of 
"which is not once mentioned in the Saxon Chronicle, and only once by Bede, 
and then in a wholly different connection t 

VOL. IV. q q 

580 The Colonisation of Northumhriai 

Worcester also makes Seomil anterior to Ida, — by five genera- 
tions according to the pedigree of Ida given in his appendix, by- 
one according to that given in the chronicle. Selecting the 
account given in Nennins as more historically trustworthy than 
any other,- we assume that Seomil, an Angle chieftain who lived 
about the year 460, did really " separate Deira from Bernicia /' 
by which we understand that, establishing an Angle kingdom 
to the north of the Humber, and thus destroying the British 
power in Deira, he effectually separated that province from the 
still British kingdom of Bernicia. 

It is difficult to say what a strange statement is worth, made 
by the second continuator of Florence of Worcester, a writer of 
the thirteenth century, to the effect that seven lineal ancestors 
of Ida reigned in Northumbria before him, of whom Hyring was 
the first.^ Allowing twenty years for each reign, this would 
throw back the commencement of the Angle colonisation to the 
early part of the fifth century. But as these predecessors of 
Ida were unknown to the earlier authorities, it is impossible 
to attach much weight to the statement. 

Nor can we agree with Lappenberg in adopting the state- 
ment of Ncnnius,* which is further amplified and developed in 
the lying pages of Geoffrey of Monmouth, that Hengist obtained 
from Vortigern, for his sons Octa and Ebusa, the countries in 
the north near the wall of Severus. The account of the pro- 
ceedings of Hengist and his followers given in the Saxon Chro- 
nicle conveys an impression quite at variance with a belief in 
such a rapid spread of Saxon dominion, at least from a Kentish 
centre. Seven or eight years after the landing of the invaders 
in the Isle of Thanet the Britons still held London ;^ and there 
is not a trace of evidence in the early writers that the Saxons 
of Kent penetrated far to the north of the Thames. Nennius 
in this passage is clearly relying on the British, not on the 
Saxon annals. And we cannot be too much on our guard 
against the mendacious Celtic imagination, the inventions of 
which are usually neither vera nor veri-similia. Wounded na- 
tional vanity and intense hatred of the Saxon (for which, it must 
be confessed, there was cause enough) induced the British his- 
torians, from Gildas down to Geoffrey, to ascribe the loss of 
Britain to two causes — the anger of Heaven against the Britons 
on account of their sins, and the inexhaustible multitude of bar- 
barians whom teeming Germany poured, in successive waves of 
invasion, upon their devoted coasts. It was not that the Saxons 
were more formidable in war ; on the contrary, whenever there 

3 For the reasons given in the foregoing note. 
» Florence, p. 385 (Bohn's ed.). 

4 Hist, Britonum, k 38. * Sax. Chron. an. 457. 

The Colonisation of Northumbria. 581 

was any thing like an equality of force, the Britons scattered 
their "doggish"^ foes like chaff. It was that British princes 
were traitors ; that the supernal powers were wrath ; that as 
fast as one swarm of invaders was destroyed, another landed. 
All these being first principles with Celtic historians, history 
of course must be shaped into accordance with them J Hence 
arose those wild fictions of which the Hlstoria Byntonum is the 
earliest extant embodiment, but which, being carried across the 
Channel to Brittany, were improved by the sea-passage, and hav- 
ing been worked up into a still more racy History of the Kings 
of Britain, recrossed the sea in the twelfth century, and were 
presented to the world as serious history in the Latin transla- 
tion of Geoffrey of Monmouth.^ How unlike the sturdy veracity 
of the Saxon chronicler, who, though with pain unutterable, 
fails not to record, each in its proper place, the many bloody 
overthrows which his countrymen suffered from the Danes ! 

But the argument derived from geographical considerations 
and the names of places has, upon the whole, the greatest force 
in proof of the very early colonisation of the East Riding. The 
strip of coast extending from Spurn Point to Flamborough Head, 
bounded by the sea on the east, and the Holdernesse fen occu- 
pying the valley of the river Hull on the west, is crowded Avith 
villages, the names of the great majority of which are pure 
Anglo-Saxon. Not one in fifteen is Danish. This fact may be 
taken as indicating that this part of the East Riding was so fully 
peopled when the Danes began to make settlements on our east- 
ern coasts, that they were unable to alter the existing names, 
and found no room to make fresli settlements of their own. 
That they did alter existing names when they could, is shown in 
the instances of Derby and Whitby, of which the old Saxon 
names were Nor^-weor^ig and Streoneshalch. In Lincolnshire, 
on the other hand, which, as forming part of Mercia, had been 
colonised from Northumbria, and at a later period, the Saxon 
settlements must have been comparatively sparse and few even 
in the ninth century ; for we find that place-names of Danish 
origin form about two-fifths of the whole number in North Lin- 
colnshire. Now relative density of population is, under ordi- 
nary circumstances, a proof of relatively earlier colonisation. 
The same people that colonised ^lassachusetts colonised the 
state of Ohio ; but Massachusetts, though its soil is of far in- 

s Gildas, § 23. 

' Gildas, however, deserves to be almost wholly exempted from this censure. 

^ This seems a reasonable account of the matter, the resemblance between 
the narrative of Nennius and that of Geoifrey being far too close in many places 
to be the result of accident, and the amplification and embellishment of the 
work of Xennius with picturesque falsehood to any amount being certain to be 
a congenial task and labour of love to the Armorican historians. 

582 T'he Colonisation of Nortliumhria* 

ferior fertility, is much more densely peopled. What is the 
reason ? Simply that the colonisation of Massachusetts com- 
menced more than a century and a half before the colonisation 
of Ohio. The distribution of the Maori population in New 
Zealand, at the time when it became a British possession, is also 
a case in point. The unvarying native tradition declares that 
the ancestors of the present Maories came from the eastward, 
and made their first settlement at the northern extremity of the 
northern island. The tradition is confirmed by the fact that, at 
the date mentioned, the native population of New Zealand, 
densest in the extreme north, diminished almost regularly in 
density as you went southward; so that the southern island, 
though its numerous bays swarmed with fish, and its rocky 
shores with mussels, and its hill-sides waved with the edible fern, 
contained no more than a seventieth part of the whole native po- 
pulation. Similarly, the relatively greater density of the Angle 
population of the Holdernesse district in the ninth century, proved 
by the close juxtaposition of the villages, and by the persistence 
of their old Angle names, is itself a proof that colonisation had 
commenced in that district at a relatively remote period. 

We have, then, two distinct centres of Angle settlement in 
Britain north of the Humber ; that of Bernicia, radiating from 
Bebbanburg, or Bamborough, the strong fortress and city on a 
rock, built by Ida about the middle of the sixth century, and 
that of Deira, radiating from some unknown point in the East 
E/iding, the position of which can never be ascertained with 
certainty. In the time of Seomil it may possibly have been at 
the Roman station of Petuaria, afterwards Brough, on the Hum- 
ber, whence a Roman road led to York. In the time of ^lle 
or Ella (who reigned from 560 to 588), there seems some slight 
ground for fixing the capital of Deira a little farther inland, 
where the villages of Kirk Ella and West Ella, which are situ- 
ated high up on the chalk downs, still perpetuate the name of 
that king. The examples of Edinburgh (Edwinesburg) and Os- 
winthorpe, both royal fortresses, the latter a royal residence, 
show that the kings of Deira were in the habit of calling their 
strongholds or residences by their own names. As the Angle 
settlers spread themselves northwards from the Humber, the 
residence of their kings would also naturally be moved forward 
from time to time in the same direction. That it was on the 
Derwent,9 a few miles to the east of York, in the reign of Edwin 
(617-633), we know for certain from the narrative of Bede.^° 
That it had previously been at Godmundingham, or Goodman- 
ham, just at the western edge of the Wolds, may be inferred 

^ Without doubt at the Roman city of Derventio, near Stamford Bridge, 
w Hist Eccl, ii. 9. 

The Colonisation of Northumhria, 


with some plausibility from the fact recorded by Bede/^ that the 
principal temple of the old worship, previous to the conversion 
of King Edwin by Paulinus, stood at that place. The diagram 
subjoined will make more clear the presumed gradual extension 
northwards of the Deiran dominion. 


Prom the first landing of the Angles to the final union of 
Deira and Bernicia under King Oswald, in 642, we shall, so far 
as possible, treat of the two kingdoms separately. The boundary 
between them is a disputed point ; some of the chroniclers place 
it at the Tees, and others at the Tyne. A river, the reader must 
observe, is not a natural, but a conventional boundary between 
two tribes or peoples. We hear of no wars of any consequence 
between Deira and Bernicia, and therefore have no right to 
assume that the boundaries which nature established between 
them were disused, in favour of those conventional frontiers 
which a spirit of compromise suggests. Deira, which undoubt- 
edly extended to the Tees, would as undoubtedly, in the early 
times which we are now exploring, include the fertile lands and 
coteaux on the north bank of that river ; it would embrace the 
whole of the beautiful Yale of Cleveland. Similarly Bernicia, 
which certainly extended to the Tyne, would as certainly include 
the whole Tyne valley, and also the rich level district near the 
sea, between the mouths of the Tyne and Wear^ which are but 
seven miles apart. The reader will remember that the twin 
monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow, names which, from their 

" Hist. Eccl. ii. 13. 


584 The Colonisation of Northumbrian 

connection Vitli the life of the Venerable Bede, will never be for- 
gotten while literature endures, stood, one upon the Tyne, the 
other at the mouth of the Wear. Bernician settlers would also, 
one can hardly doubt, occupy the lower valley of the Wear. The 
rest of the county of Durham would be mark-land between the 
two kingdoms. To the west the county is mountainous ; in 
the eastern portion, where the coal-measures rise to the surface, 
the land is by no means inviting for agricultural settlement, and 
would consequently long remain in the state of a thinly peopled 
march, mostly covered by the original forest. In this way is to 
be explained the exaggerated statement of John of Tynemouth, 

that in the British times the whole of Durham was one vast 
forest. 12 

In Nennius, Florence, and the Saxon Chronicle, lists^^ of 
kings are given who reigned in Deira before -^Ue, but we are 
told nothing more about them. JElle died in 588, leaving a son, 
Edwin, then two years old ; a regency in some form or other 
was probably established, which was put down by Ethelfrid 
about the year 605. Ethelfrid (the ^Edlfred Flesaurs of Nen- 
nius), whom we know from Bede^* to have been of a Bernician 
family, and descended from Ida, after having reigned in Bernicia 
twelve years, is said by Nennius^^ to have reigned twelve years 
in Deira. This must mean that he overran the Angle settlements 
in Deira in 605, and had his royal residence for the rest of his 
reign at Derventio, which we find to have been the capital twenty 
years later. In 607, according to the Saxon Chronicle, he " led 
his army to Chester, and there slew numberless Welshmen.^^ 
Bede also says^^ that he ^^ conquered more territories from the 
Britons, either making them tributary, or driving the inhabitants 

^2 Until the reign of Henry VIII., Erecknockshire and Radnorshire were 
not considered as counties, but as forming part of the marches of Wales. In 
that reign they were formed into counties ; and it is noticeable that they, like 
Durham, are stream-bounded to an extent much beyond -what is usual in Eng- 
lish counties, and for the same reason, viz. that their boundaries were not 
determined by the gradual course of natural colonisation, but fixed by states- 
men in the way most expeditious and convenient. 

^3 These genealogies require more examination than they have received. It 
is singular that in the list given in the Saxon Chronicle, the names of Seomil, 
the original conqueror of Deira, and Swserta, are omitted, while they are found 
in both of Florence's lists (under the year 557 and in the Appendix), who 
usually closely follows the Saxon Chronicle for this early period. Yet Florence 
is not here following Nennius, whose list, though it contains Seomil, omits 
Swserta, and has other points of divergence. May not Swajrta be merely an- 
other name for Seomil, an agnomen, or name of distinction, given to him on 
account of his feats of arms ; just as a hero of our own times, who had not 
then performed any feats of arms, was dubbed, or dubbed himself, Meagher of 
the Sword. What seems to confirm this conjecture is, that Nennius names 
Sguerthing as the son and successor of Seomil. Now Sguerthing evidently 
stands for Swaerting (the g in Welsh constantly replacing the English w), and 
simply means "son of Swajrta." 

'4 Hist, EccU iii. 1. "§ 63. ^^ i. 35. 

The Colonisation of Nortlmmhria, 585 

clean out, and planting Angles in their places, tlian any other 
king or tribune/^ Taking these statements in connection with 
each other, and with the further statement of Bede that the next 
king, Edwin, fitted out fleets which subdued Anglesey and Man, 
one may safely infer that the Northumbrian kingdom at this 
time stretched across South Lancashire, and included a part of 
Cheshire. The port where Edwin fitted out his fleet could have 
been no other than Chester; for the site of Liverpool was then a 
dismal swamp, and Chester had been much used as a naval sta- 
tion by the Romans, and was still so used in the tenth century 
by Edgar. But this westward extension was a rash and undue 
one, which could only be maintained against the hostile British 
population west of the Dee by very energetic rulers, being much 
in advance of the progress of Angle colonisation. We find, 
therefore, without surprise, that after the death of Edwin, Ches- 
ter again fell into the hands of the Britons, and so continued 
until, in the eighth century, the Mercian kings became strong 
enough to wrest it from them. 

Edwin, son of iElle, returned from exile in 617 at the head 
of an army supplied to him by E-edwald, king of East Anglia, 
and in the battle which ensued Ethelfrid was defeated and slain. 
Edwin and his people were converted to Christianity in 627 by 
the preaching of Paulinus ; the touching and picturesque parti- 
culars, so strangely distorted by most of our modern historians, 
may be read in Bede. One incident we cannot refrain from 
quoting, on account of the light which it casts on the habits of 
life of the Angle race ; it occurred at the great council of priests 
and thanes which Edwin held, in order to debate the question 
whether the new religion should be embraced. ''Another of 
the king^s chief men, approving of his words and exhortations, 
presently added, ' The present life of man, O king, seems to me, 
in comparison of that time which is unknown to us, like to the 
swift flight of a sparrow through the room wherein you sit at 
supper in winter, with your commanders and ministers, and a 
good fire in the midst, whilst the storms of rain and snow prevail 
abroad ; the sparrow, I say, flying in at one door, and immedi- 
ately out at another, whilst he is within is safe from the wintry 
storm; but after a short space of fair weather he immediately 
vanishes out of your sight, into the dark winter from which he 
had emerged. So this life of man appears for a short space ; 
but of what went before, or what is to follow, we are utterly 
ignorant. If, therefore, this doctrine contains something more 
certain, it seems justly to deserve to be followed.^ ''^"^ 

Paulinus fixed his see at York, probably in deference to the 
wish expressed by Pope Gregory^^ that London and York, which 
17 Hist. Eccl. ii. 13. 18 lb. i. 29. 

586 The Colonisation of Northumhria, 

had been the chief sees in Roman Britain, should continue, under 
the new arrangements, to enjoy metropolitan dignity. But York 
probably lay in ruins at this time, and was in the condition of 
many other cities once flourishing and adorned with noble build- 
ings, the prostrate state of which in the sixth century Gildas so 
pathetically describes ;^^ else why should it have been necessary 
for Edwin to build the wooden church at York in which he 
was baptised ? for, under the Romans, Eboracum, as the seat of 
government, and the chief city in Britain, must have contained 
many churches of stone. When, however, it had thus been made 
the religious centre of the Northumbrian kingdom, York soon be- 
came also the political centre, and we hear of Derventio no more. 
Edwin, though he reigned but sixteen years, left his mark 
upon our land and its history by seizing and fortifying the rock 
looking over and commanding the Frith of Forth, which after 
him was named Edwinesburg, or Edinburgh ; and also by con- 
quering the island of Mona, which thenceforth bore the name — at 
least for Englishmen — of Angles-ey, island of the Angles. It 
was probably early in this reign that he " seized Elmete, and 
expelled Gertie its king/'^^ Elmete is supposed by Whitaker to 
have embraced the lower portions of Airedale and Wharfedale, 
together with the entire vale of Calder/^^ Gertie, or Geretic, is a 
British name, and if it be taken as the true name, Elmete must 
have been one of the British petty kingdoms which Ethelfrid 
forced to pay him tribute. But " Elmete" has a Saxon rather 
than a British sound ; and if Gertie be supposed to have been 
written in error for Gerdic (the reading of some of the later 
Mss.), then we have an instance of an Angle petty kingdom 
absorbed by the paramount Angle dynasty. Either supposition 
will suit the words of Bede, that Edwin "reduced under his 
dominion all the borders of Britain that were provinces either of 
the aforesaid nation^' {i. e. of the Northumbrian Angles) " or of 
the Britons."-^ What a glimpse does this chance mention of the 
conquest of Elmete give one of an old state of society well nigh 
lost to history, when Yorkshire was cut up into four or five little 
kingdoms, struggling for the mastery with each other and with 
rude nature, the final predominance of one of which caused the 
fortunes, and almost the names, of the others to be forgotten I 
Besides Elmete, one may feel certain that Loidis, Gleveland,^ 
and Graven, had at one time a more or less independent political 

J» § 24. 20 Nennius, § 63. 

2» Whitaker's (T. D.) Loidis and Elmete (folio) ; see also the diagram given 
above. 22 jj, 9^ 

23 May not Cleveland be meant by the district of Coetlevum, mentioned by 
Eddi Stephanus in his Life of St. Wilfrid, eh. xvii. ? 

^ See the diagram. 

The Colonisation of NortJmmhria, 587 

In 633 Edwin was defeated by the allied forces of Penda, the 
Mercian king, and Cadwalla, king of the Britons, and lost his 
life in the battle. In the confusion which followed^ Deira and 
Bernicia were again divided; the former falling to Edwin^s 
nephew Osric, the latter to Eanfrid, the son of his predecessor 
Ethelfrid. But before two years had been ended, both these 
kings had been slain by Cadwalla ; and Oswald, Eanfrid's brother, 
returning from Scotland, where, during Edwin's reign, he had 
been forced to live in exile, made his authority recognised in both 
kingdoms, Cadwalla having been defeated and slain at the battle 
of Denisesburn. '^ Through this king's management,^' says Bede, 
" the provinces of the Deiri and the Bernicians — which till then 
had been at variance — were peacefully united, and moulded into 
one people/'"^ Nor, although in the reign of Oswy (642-670), 
Oswin the son of Osric, and after him Ethelwald the son of Os- 
wald, had a sort of subordinate regal dignity in Deira, were the 
two countries ever again thoroughly dissevered before the sup- 
pression of the Northumbrian kingdom. 

What we know of Bernicia between the years 547 and 642 may 
be summed up in very few words. Ida was succeeded by several 
of his sons, and then by his grandson Ethelfrid in 593, of whom 
we have already spoken. Paulinus preached to and converted 
great numbers of the Bernicians at a place called Gefrin ( Yever- 
ing), near the river Till, in the northern part of Northumber- 
land ;-^ but being driven out of Northumbria after the death of 
Edwin, he was unable to take the necessary steps to confirm 
these converts in the faith; and the effect was so evanescent 
that, upon the accession of Oswald, Bede expressly states that 
"no sign of the Christian faith — no church, no altar — was 
erected throughout all the nation of the Bernicians.'^-'' How the 
brave and holy king brought Aidan, one of the monks of Hii 
(lona) from Scotland, and by his means effectually planted 
Christianity in the country north of the Tees, may be read in 
Bede. Aidan fixed his see at Lindisfarne, or Holy Isle ; an island 
lying off the coast of Northumberland, not far from Berwick, 
This was a central position as regarded Bernicia, which then 
extended to the Frith of Forth ; and neither Aidan nor Oswald 
could have anticipated that the see of York, left vacant by the 
retirement of Paulinus, would not be filled up for more than 
thirty years. But so it was ; and in consequence the Bishops of 
Lindisfarne were called upon to act during that interval for 
the whole of Northumbria ; whence Colman, the third of those 
Bishops, is named by Eddi Stephanus " episcopus Eboracse civi- 

From the point at which we have now arrived, it will be more 

^ iii. 6. 26 Bede, ii. 14. ^ lb. iii. 2. 

588 The Colonisation of NorOmmhria, 

convenient to make such observations as may be necessary upon 
the subsequent history of Northumbria in connection with the 
following special heads of enquiry; viz. 1. the limits and \icissi- 
tudes of Angle dominion in what is now Scotland; 2. the struggle 
between the Britons and Angles in Cumberland and "Westmore- 
land, and the Norwegian colonisation of those counties ; 3. the 
mode in which Lancashire was settled ; 4. the rise, growth, and 
limits of the jurisdiction known as the Franchise of St. Cuthbert. 
That it will be impossible to treat these matters exhaustively is 
obvious ; nevertheless, so little has this particular field been tra- 
versed by our historians and archaeologists, that it wdll be easy 
to say several things that are both new and true under each of 
these heads, except perhaps the last. 

1. The ordinary impression of most persons, even of those 
who suppose themselves tolerably well acquainted with our 
national history, is that in the match of Teuton against Celt 
the victory lay wholly with the former, — that the Saxon was 
always on the encroaching and aggressive side, and was never 
compelled to relinquish what he had once grasped, much less to 
submit to the rule of Celts. Yet, if the early history of Scotland 
could be exhibited with any thing like fulness and distinctness 
of detail, we should all be struck by the marked manner in which 
this impression, so far as regards North Britain, is contradicted 
by the facts. In the first place, the very name of the country 
points to the predominance in it of the Celtic race. If the name 
"Enofland^^ (Angle-land) betokens the discomfiture of the Celtic 
inhabitants of Southern Britain before Teutonic invaders coming 
from the east and north, the name of Scot-land no less clearly 
intimates the ultimate political ascendancy in Northern Britain 
of Celtic invaders coming from the south and west — an ascend- 
ancy obtained in spite of the most strenuous efforts of the Angles 
to extend and consolidate their conquests beyond the Tweed. 
What these efforts were, and how they were frustrated, we shall 
now endeavour to show. 

At what time Angle settlers first began to colonise the 
eastern shores of Scotland it is now impossible to ascertain. 
But that as early as the time of Ida (547) a considerable mass 
of Angle population must have been settled north of the Tweed, 
may be reasonably inferred from his choosing a place so far 
north as Bamborough for the seat of his government. The 
eastern counties of the Lowlands were at this time occupied by 
Picts, whom the new-comers either dispossessed or made tribu- 
taries. Dumfriesshire, or at any rate the basin of the Nith,^ 
was also Pictish. Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, and Dumbarton- 
shire as far as Alcluid (afterwards Dumbarton), — in other words, 
» Bede, Vita -S. Cuth. ch. xi. 

llie Colonisation of Northumhria. 589 

almost the entire basin of the Clyde, — formed the kingdom of 
the Strath-clyde Britons. These Britons probably established 
themselves here at the time when the Roman dominion was un- 
questioned as far as the wall of Antoninus ; and protected by 
their natural boundaries of rugged mountain-ranges, and by the 
obstacle which their fortress of Alcluid, placed behind a deep 
river flowing out of Loch Lomond, presented to an invader from 
the north-west, they were able to hold their ground when that 
dominion was forced backward, and the stream of Scoto-Pictish 
invasion, leaving the little kingdom safe in its midst, overflowed 
the more assailable regions of Southern Britain. The south- 
western district — Ayrshire and Galloway — is said to have been 
inhabited by a mixed population of Scots and Picts.29 The 
Scots, whose seat was Argyleshire and the coasts and islands 
farther north, came unquestionably froi^i Ireland. They are 
said by the Scottish annalists to have sailed from Dalreutha 
in Ulster, and landed on the western shore of Scotland in 
503, under the leadership of Fergus.''^ The residence of their 
kings for many generations was Dunstafthage Castle, near 

We hear of no efibrts on the part of the Scots to rescue the 
Picts from the extermination with which they were threatened 
by the Angle race. But when the Britons, who then perhaps 
occupied not only Cumberland and Westmoreland, but also the 
western part of Northumberland, were hard pressed by Ethel- 
frid, and great numbers of them dislodged or made tributaries, 
J^dan, who then reigned over the Scots inhabiting Britain, 
made a vigorous but unsuccessful diversion in their favour. 
Whether he brought his army by sea, or through Ayrshire, or 
■was allowed by the Strath-clyde Britons to pass through their 
territory, we are not told. But thus much may be held as cer- 
tain, that he entered Cumberland in 603, met the Angle army 
at Dalston,^^ near Carlisle, and, after a bloody contest, was com- 
pletely defeated. From this time down to his own day, no 
Scottish king, says Bede, had ventured to lead an army against 
the Angles. 

Gradually the Picts were driven westward and northw^ard by 
the stronger race. There seems no reason to doubt the correct- 
ness of the tradition which assigns the foundation of Edinburgh 
to Edwin, between the years 617 and 633. Before 650 the Angles 

^ Scott's Hist, of Scotland, ch. i. so ib. 

3' Degsa-stan, Bede, i. 34, and Florence sub anno ; Doegsan-stane, Sax. Chron. 
It has been conjectured thatDawston, near Jedburgh, is intended. Had ^dan 
been bringing aid to the Picts, this might have been so ; but an ally of the Bri- 
tons could do them no good by entering Pictish territory, which the vale of 
Teviot then was. Yet it is hard to see how Degsa-stan could be corrupted into 

590 The Colonisation of Northumhria, 

had pushed up the valley of the Tweed as far as Melrose ; and 
thenceforward a line of English abbots governed the famous 
monastery which had been founded there by Scottish monks from 
lona.^- After Oswy's victory over Penda king of Mercia in G55, 
Bede informs us that he brought under his dominion the greater 
part of the Pictish nation. Whether or not he pushed his con- 
quests beyond the Frith of Porth, we cannot certainly tell ; but 
it seems probable that he did. 

It was under Egfrid (670-685) that the Angle kingdom pene- 
trated farthest into Scotland, at least on the eastern side. So 
firmly did it seem to be established to the south of the Frith 
of Forth, that in 681 Trumwine was appointed by Archbishop 
Theodore to be Bishop "in the province of the Picts," and fixed 
his see at the monastery of Abercorn, a few miles to the west of 
Edinburgh.^^ Egfrid led an army into Forfarshire in 685 against 
Burdei, king of the Picts, with the intention apparently of es- 
tablishing Angle supremacy along the whole eastern coast ; but 
fortune failed him, and with a sudden collapse the Angle king- 
dom shrank back within limits which it was never afterwards to 
exceed. The Picts slew Egfrid, and nearly destroyed his army 
among the hills of Forfarshire. The victors pressed on in pur- 
suit into the Lothians, and all the Angle colonists who could 
not take refuge in fortresses had to flee for their lives. Bishop 
Trumwine and his monks were included in the herd of fugitives ; 
and the former, sickened, it would seem, of missions among the 
Picts, retired to Abbess Hilda^s monastery at Streoneshalch. It 
may be conjectured that the castled rock of Edinburgh, and per- 
haps one or two other strong places, remained to the Angles as 
isolated points in the midst of a country generally lost to them. 
Nor were they dislodged from the valley of the Tweed ; for the 
succession of Angle abbots at Melrose continues unbroken, and 
King Aldfrid, Egfrid's successor, used, as Bede incidentally men- 
tions,^* to pay occasional visits to those parts, which are mani- 
festly spoken of as still forming part of his dominions. Yet the 
same unimpeachable witness expressly declares that Aldfrid, 
though he retrieved matters a good deal, had his kingdom 

32 Eata, an Angle, was, according to Florence, abbot of Melrose in 651. 
He was a boy (Bede, iii. 26) when Aldan first became Bishop of Lindisfarne in 
635. His appointment to Melrose, therefore, could not have occurred much, 
if at all, before 650, in which year he would not have been more than thirty, 
even if we suppose him to have been fifteen years of age in 635. Now Eata 
must have been the first Angle abbot of Melrose, because before 635 the whole 
Bemician nation was Pagan. Before him, the abbots were Scottish, and would 
certainly so have continued, had not Melrose fallen, somewhere about the date 
supposed, into the hands of the Angles, when the change of temporal rulers 
brought with it, as almost invariably happened in those days, a change in the 
spiritual rulers. 

» Hist. Eccl. iv. 12. ** lb. v. 12. 

The Colonisation of Northumhria. 591 

'^ within narrower bounds" than his predecessor. Probably the 
Picts were stopped at the pass of Cockburnspath, in Berwick- 
shire — a position which might easily be held by a few resolute 
men against a greatly superior force. 

But Bede, with his calm steady procedure, his English vera- 
city, his saintly simplicity, his openness of mind and fulness of 
Ivuowledge, fails us, alas, too soon, and an impenetrable darkness 
falls over the state of society in the eastern Lowlands for about 
a century and a half. AVith regard to Ayrshire and the north 
coast of the Solway, we retain some glimmerings of light down 
to a later time. Between the battle of Degsa-stan and the defeat 
of Egfrid (603-685) Lugubalia, or Carlisle, must have become a 
completely Angle city; and we cannot doubt that it served as the 
chief port and depot for the Northumbrian kings in their opera- 
tions in the Solway or against Ireland. Hence, or perhaps from 
the mouth of the Derwent, must have sailed the fleet w^hich 
Egfrid sent on an unjust raid against Ireland in 684 Hence 
also must have radiated those colonising operations which 
planted Angle settlements thickly on the whole Scottish coast, 
from the head of the Solway round to the Erith of Clyde. The 
mere fact that these settlements (as the present nomenclature of 
places proves^^) did not extend in general very far from the coast, 
shows that the settlers came either by sea or round the head of 
the Erith. The rugged mountains which form the watershed 
between the basin of the Tweed and Teviot and tlie country 
sloping to the Solway, must have presented great difficulties in 
the way of the westward progress of Angle colonisation overland; 
but by the occupation of Carlisle, and its employment as a port, 
these difficulties were overcome, or rather turned. Rapidly must 
this new field have been taken up. Already, in 696, Cuning- 
ham, the northern district of Ayrshire, was reckoned a province 
of Northumbria.^'' In 750 the plain of Kyle, the central dis- 
trict of Ayrshire, was added by Eadbert, the then king of Nor- 
thumhria, to his dominions.37 The increasing numbers of the 
colonists had led, about the year 727, to the erection of a 
bishopric in Galloway, at Whitherne or Candida Casa, where 
St. Ninias had formerly preached to the Picts, of which Pech- 
thelm was the first Bishop.^^ In 756 Eadbert, probably on ac- 

35 e. g. Rothwell and Dalton, in Dumfriesshire ; Soutliwiek, Berwick, and 
Tvviueham, in Kirkcudbrightshire ; Whitherne, Wigton, and Glasserton, in 
AVigtonshire ; and Prestwick, Monkton, Fenvvick, &c., in Ayrshire. From, 
these Angle names it is easy to distinguish the later Scandinavian names 
of places, ending in by, garth, &c,, which resulted from Danish or Norwegian 
occupation ; and also the Celtic names, with their characteristic prefixes, Dal, 
Auchin, Knock, Bal, Glen, Ben, Caer, &c. 

3« Bede, v. 12. 

37 Auctarium, Bede. 35 -Qq^q y. 23, 

592 The Colonisation of Northumhria, 

count of annoyances whicli the settlers in Cuningham or Een- 
frewshire had received from tlie Strath-clyde Britons, led an 
army, in which Unust, king of the Picts, was present as his ally, 
against Alcluid. The Britons, we are told, came to terms with 

We have now reached the climax of Northumbrian power. 
Disaster soon after fell on the western, no less than on the east- 
ern settlements. Ethelwald Moll, then king of Northumbria, 
did indeed gain a great victory near Melrose in 761;*° but the 
failure of the line of Angle Bishops at Whitherne, towards the 
beginning of the ninth century, "^^ is a certain proof that the Scots 
about that time made themselves masters of Galloway. The re- 
covery of Carlisle by the Britons was probably connected in some 
way with that disaster. 

In 839 the famous Scottish king, Kenneth II., drove the 
Angles out of Melrose, and destroyed the monastery which had 
educated St. Cuthbert. In 842 the same monarch defeated and 
slew in Perthshire Wrad, the last king of the Picts, who thence- 
forward are identified in history with the Scots. The power of 
the Northumbrians, whose proneness to treason, perjury, mur- 
der, and rebellion during the last fifty years of their national 
existence called forth the anger and contempt of Charlemagne^'*' 
constantly decreased, and the Scottish monarchy became more 
consolidated. Our annalists are careful indeed to record that 
the great English kings of the tenth century, Athelstan, Edred, 
and Edgar, exercised a paramount and admitted sovereignty 
over the kings of Scotland ; but, if the fact be true, it is of little 
consequence. The surrender of Cumberland by Edmund in 945, 
after he had conquered it, to Malcolm, the Scottish king, is a 
much more significant circumstance; for it shows Scotland en- 
croaching upon Northumbria, instead of Northumbrians making 
conquests in Scotland. At what time the Lothians and Ber-- 
wickshire were lost, we can nowhere find recorded. Scottish 
history informs us that " Eadulf Cudel, earl of Northum- 
berland, in 1020 ceded to the Scottish king [Malcolm II.] 
the rich district of Lothene or Lothian,^^-*^ with other terri- 
tories; but no contemporary writer states this; and the Earl 
of Northumbria in 1020 was not Eadulf Cudel, but Eric. 
However, it appears from the Saxon Chronicle, that in 1091 
the Lothians, though still considered as in " Engla-land'' (for 
the Frith of Forth was considered even in the thirteenth cen- 

39 Sim. Dun. de Gestis Reg. Angl. ^ lb. 

••' See the list given in the Appendix to Florence. Beadulph, the last Bishop 
but one, was living in 796. Of the last of all, Heathored, we can discover abso- 
lutely nothing. 

« Will. Malrasb. i. 3. « Scott's Hist of Scotland, ch. ii. 

The Colonisation of Northumhria, 593 

tuiy as tlie boundary between the Scots and the Angles),"** 
yet formed part of the Scottish king's dominions ; and it seems 
probable that the whole eastern Lowlands, except perhaps a 
few isolated strongholds, had been lost to Northumbria in the 
ninth century, although the Angle inhabitants had not been 

2. Little can be securely ascertained respecting the early 
state of Cumberland. The name, which points to the Cymry, 
the same root which is found in the word Cambria, together with 
geographical considerations, would be sufficient to prove, with- 
out any other testimony, that the British inhabitants of the 
north of England, driven across the high dividing range which 
parts the valleys trending east and west by the Angle invaders, 
long held their ground in the valleys of the Eden and Derwent, 
and among the mountains of the Lake district. But the Angles 
followed them up ; and, after fully settling the valley of the south 
Tyne, would naturally be induced, following w^here the Eoman 
wall, scaling the dividing range, seemed to invite them onwards, 
to cross over and try their fortune upon the streams that flowed 
to the Eden. If Degsastan be identified with Dalston, near Car- 
lisle, there can be no doubt that, even in the time of Ethelfrid 
(593-617), the Angle kings compelled the Britons in Cumber- 
land to pay them tribute, even if they had not dispossessed 
them of their lands. Whether this displacement occurred under 
Ethelfrid, or Edwin, or Oswald, or Oswy, we do not know. 
That it was accomplished some time before 685 is certain, for 
at that time Lugubalia, or Luel, as the Angle colonists called it, 
was a thoroughly Angle city ; in a convent within its walls dwelt 
a sister of Egfrid's queen ; it was included within the circuit of 
St. Cuthbert^s episcopal visitations ; monasteries were springing 
up in the neighbourhood, and priests required to be ordained for 
the wants of the district. ^^ And from the fact that the hermit 
Herebert, whose name attests his Angle nationality, was at this 
time living peaceably on the island in Derwent Water, which to 
this day bears his name, it may be inferred, with considerable 
probability, that the vale of Keswick, if not the whole valley 
watered by the Derwent, was in the possession of the Angles. 
That St. Bega founded about this time her monastery in Cope- 
land, south of Whitehaven (whence the neighbouring promon- 
tory bears the name of St. Bees Head), is a tradition preserved 
in Leland^s Collectanea^ but not vouched for by any ancient 

^ Florence (Bohn's ed.), p. 386. 

*•' Bede, Vita S. Cuthb. ch. xxvii. xxviii. There is not the slightest doubt 
that these were Angle monasteries and priests. Those were not the times when 
Britons and Angles could live peaceably together on equal terms, even within 
convent walls. 

594* The Colonisation of Northumhria* 

author. Yet there is little reason to doubt it ; for the later 
priory of St. Bees, founded early in the twelfth century by 
WilUam de INIeschiens, was avowedly a re-foundation of an old 
institution which had been destroyed by the Dartes ; so that the 
original foundation must at any rate be thrown back beyond the 
year 800, at about which time the descents of the Danish pirates 
began. How long Carlisle and the country round it remained 
in the possession of the Angles, we cannot tell. After the great 
defeat of Egfrid in 685, " some of the Britons regained their 
liberty,"*^ which they still enjoyed at the time of Bede's death. 
This probably refers to the mountainous district of South Cum- 
berland, where the Angle power must have been weakest and the 
Britons most numerous. From 685, then, we may safely assume 
that a small British state existed in Cumberland, which gradually 
increased its limits as the decline of the Northumbrian king- 
dom became more marked. But it is impossible to believe 
that the Angles lost Carlisle and North Cumberland till a 
much later date. While Angle kings were leading victorious 
expeditions in Ayrshire and on the Clyde, they must have had 
a secure base of operations somewhere ; and that base, as we 
have already shown, must have been North Cumberland. But 
when the Northumbrian state was convulsed by every kind 
of political and social disorder, until in 827, not through his 
strength but its own weakness, it submitted to the rule of 
Egbert of Wessex ; when the settlements on the north shore of 
the Solway were overrun by the Scots and Picts; — then we may 
reasonably conjecture that Carlisle was taken by the Britons, 
and held by them until their final expulsion from Cumberland 
in the tenth century. If it had remained Angle, "VVhitherne 
could easily have been recovered from the Scots by a people 
having the command of the Solway, in which case the l)ishopric 
would have been reestablished ; but it never was reestablished : 
therefore we infer that Carlisle was lost to the Angles near the 
time when Galloway was lost, or about the beginning of the 
ninth century. 

In the ninth century we can predicate just two facts of Cum- 
berland, which, perhaps, are but one. Ethelwerd, a writer of 
the tenth century, says that the Danish leader Halfdene, after 
occupying the lands about the Tyne in 875, made frequent wars 
on the Picts and the men of Cumberland.*'^ Florence of Wor- 
cester, under the year 1092, speaking of the rebuilding of Car- 
lisle in that year by order of William Rufus, says that it had 
been destroyed about 200 years before by the Danes, and had 

<« Eccl Hist iv. 26. 

^"^ This seems more probable than the statement in the Saxon Chronicle, that 
the Strath-clyde Britons were the object of attack. 

The ColonisafJon of Northimhria, 595 

lain in ruins ever since. It seems probable that tins destruction 
was effected in one of Halfdene's raids. 

The tenth century, as we dimly see through the loopholes of 
occasional notices in intermittent annals, must for Cumberland 
and Westmoreland have been a period full of change, marked by 
the migration and substitution of races. The British state main- 
tained its de facto independence till the middle of the century ; 
though, if Malmesbury is to be believed, the great Athelstan 
received at Dacor (Dacre, near Penrith), in 926, the submission 
of the British king of Cumberland, Eugenius or Ewen. In 945 
Edmund, the brother of Athelstan, led an army northwards by. 
Windermere and the vale of the R-otha, and encountered the 
British forces, under their king Dunmail, at the pass upon the 
Cumberland border leading over from Grasmere to Keswick. 
The Britons were defeated, and Dunmail was killed; his bones 
are said still to rest under tlie gray heap of stones to the left of 
the road. Wordsworth, in his poem of '- The Waggoner,'^ has 
these lines : 

" They now have reached that pile of stones 
Heaped over bi-ave King Dunmail 's bones ; 
He who had once supreme command, 
Last king of rocky Cumberland ; — 
His bones, and those of all his power, 
Slain here in a disastrous hour." 

As the existing population of Cumberland and Westmoreland 
shows no trace whatever of Celtic descent, it has been conjec- 
tured that the remnant of Britons still occupying the country 
were transported after this victory, some to Wales, and others to 
the Isle of Man. But Edmund was in no condition to take the 
government of Cumberland into his own hands. Northumbria, 
owing to the large Danish element which its population now con- 
tained, was in a state absolutely chaotic ; and the best thing that 
could be done was to place Cumberland under the protection of 
the rising kingdom of the Scots. Yet we are forced to believe 
that this protection amounted to very little, for not a single fact 
in illustration of it is related by the old writers ; nor is it likely 
that Carlisle would have remained in ruins had the Scots really 
had a firm hold of the country, William of Malmesbury^^ men- 
tions Duncan (the King Duncan of Shakespeare's Macbeth) by 
the title of king of Cumbria ; by which is probably meant that 
in the lifetime of his grandfather, the powerful Malcolm II., 
Duncan reigned as viceroy in Cumberland. 

What became of this part of England after the fall of the 
British state ? The question has lately, at least in part, been 
satisfactorily answered in an excellent little work. The Northmen 

« Book ii. oh. 13. 
VOL. IV. r r 

596 The Colonhation of Northumbria. 

in Cumberland and Westmoreland, by Mr. Robert Ferguson. Mr. 
Ferguson's theory, which he supports almost entirely by argu- 
ments drawn from the existing names of places in the Lake dis- 
trict, is that after the Britons were driven out, and when the 
Scots showed no intention of recolonising the country, Norwegian 
settlers coming from the Isle of Man, and perhaps from other 
coasts and islands farther north, and landing in the entrances of 
the estuaries of the rivers running into Morecambe Bay or on the 
Cumberland coast, gradually settled themselves in most of the 
mountain valleys, and partially occupied the plains to the north 
and east. We refer the reader to the work itself for the proofs 
of this theory. The process was going on, Mr. Ferguson thinks, 
during the last forty or fifty years of the tenth century. Hence 
it is that so many names, and endings of names, in the Lake dis- 
trict have a distinctively Norwegian and riow-Danish significa- 
tion. Even the particular district in Norway from which these 
settlers came can be pointed out ; it was the Telle-marken, that 
grand and desolate region where rise the mountains of the Hard- 
anger-feld. For in this district, alone or chiefly, are several words 
and parts of words found which are of common occurrence in the 
Lake district. Such are, -thwaite (as in Sea-thwaite, Bir-thwaite, 
E/Os-thwaite), of which the Norwegian form is thveit, a clearing 
in the forest; Scale (as in Scale-hill, Scale-force, &c.), which in 
old Norse is sJcdlij a log-hut ; -garth (as in Apple-garth, Cal-garth, 
Ho-garth), corresponding to the old Norse gardr, an enclosure. 

In the year 1000, we learn from the Saxon Chronicle that 
Ethelred ravaged nearly all Cumberland. Ethelred's great ene- 
mies were the Danes. This notice, therefore, seems to agree with, 
the conclusion to which independent considerations would lead 
us, that the population of Cumberland was at this time mainly 
Danish or Norwegian. 

There is not a gleam of light from this point on to the Nor- 
man Conquest. William I. granted Cumberland (with the excep- 
tion of a few manors in the extreme south-west of the country) 
to Ranulph dc Meschiens, considering, it would seem, that Mal- 
colm III., king of Scotland, by making war upon him and aiding 
the disaffected English, had forfeited his right to the country .**9 
The grant included also that part of Westmoreland which is geo- 
graphically connected with Cumberland, namely, the basin of the 
upper Eden, of which Appleby is the natural capital. Ranulph 
reserved for himself Englewood Forest and the parts adjoining, 
" a goodly great forest, full of woods, red deer and fallow, wild 
swine, and all manner of wild-beasts,'' and granted to his brother 
William the barony of Copeland, bounded by the Duddon, the 
Derwent, and the sea. Not that the Scottish kings gave up their 
^^ Nicolson and Burn's Hist, of Cumberland and Westmoreland. 

The Colonisation of Northimhria* 597 

rights in Cumberland without a struggle. Taking advantage of 
the confusion caused by a disputed succession, David !._, in the 
second year of Stephen, 1136, seized upon Carlisle and other 
places, and meeting Stephen at Durham, obtained from him for 
his son Henry the concession of the earldom of Cumberland, 
Henry doing homage for the same. Cumberland, with the 
north-eastern half of Westmoreland, remained during the rest 
of Stephen's reign in the hands of the Scottish kings ; but 
Henry II. soon after his accession compelled Malcolm IV., the 
grandson and successor of David, to surrender it.*''^ The cus- 
tody of the county and its castles seems to have remained 
from this time in the royal hands; that is, no earl was ap- 
pointed j but some powerful baron in the county (the barons 
of Gilsland seem to have been particularly favoured in this 
way) was appointed sheriff of Cumberland and governor of the 
royal castle of Carlisle, which was for many centuries an im- 
portant border fortress. The portion of Westmoreland which 
had hitherto gone with Cumberland was granted by King John 
to Robert de Veteripont, as a distinct barony and sheriffwick, in 
the year 1204'. Thus was Westmoreland severed from Cumber- 
land, and the latter finally reduced within those boundaries which 
it has at the present day. 

Of Westmoreland the early history is extremely obscure. 
Geographically it falls into two separate territories ; the north- 
eastern district, or " bottom of Westmoreland,^' which is the 
basin of the upper Eden, and the south-western district, which 
consists of the basin of the Ken and that of the upper Lune. 
The obvious meaning of the name is " the land of the western 
moors," which, considering the physical aspect of the surface, is 
intelligible enough. Still, as the word is said to be spelt in 
nearly all ancient documents Westmer-land,^^ it is possible that 
the central syllable is the word mere, a border, and that the 
true meaning is " the land of the western marches." The geo- 
graphical attributes that have been mentioned go far to explain 
the early political history of the county. The north-eastern dis- 
trict, di-ained by the Eden, went with Cumberland ; the south- 
western, with Yorkshire. This last assertion will perhaps puzzle 
the reader ; yet it can be easily explained. Yorkshire comprised 
the whole valley of the Lune till long after the Conquest ; and 
between the lower Lune and the basin of the Ken there is a 
perfectly easy and short communication. There is but one men- 
tion of Westmoreland in the Saxon Chronicle, and that is suffi- 
ciently enigmatical. "This year [966] Thored, Gunner's son, 

^ John and Rich, of Hexham, quoted by Lingard. 

*• Hist, of Cumb. and Westm., by Nicolson and Bum, i. 1. In the Saxon 
Chronicle, however, an. 966, the name is Westmoringa-land. 

598 The Colonisation of Northumhria, 

ravaged Westmoreland/' It T\ould be idle to found conjectures 
upon so narrow a substratum as this. All that can be said is, 
that it refers to the north-eastern district alone, since the coun- 
try round Kendal was not then deemed part of Westmoreland, 
and that it seems to indicate an inroad either of Danes or Nor- 
wegians. The first Teutonic population of the county was Angle, 
as many names of places indicate,^- and entered it, as the dis- 
tribution of those names seems to show, partly from Cumber- 
land, up the valleys of the Eden and Eamont, partly from York- 
shire, either by the Roman road leading over Stainmoor down 
upon Brough, or upw^ards from the valley of the Lune. But a 
second and stronger wave of Teutonic population was Scandina- 
vian, partly Danish and partly Norwegian, as the numerous -bys 
and -thwaites, -kirk and castor, instead of church and cester — and 
many other names — indicate. To the mountain district of West- 
moreland, and all that part of the county included between Win- 
dermere and the Ken, the remarks already made respecting the 
Norwegian immigration into Cumberland in the tenth century 
are equally applicable. 

The country round Kendal and Kirkby Lonsdale, as well as 
North Lancashire, was included at the time of the Domesday 
survey in Evrvicshire, or Yorkshire.^"* It was a distinct barony, 
however, having been granted by the Conqueror to Ivo de Taille- 
bois, one of his Norman knights. The north-eastern district, 
as already explained, was granted, along with Cumberland, to 
Ranulf de Meschiens. For many generations the barons of 
Kendal exercised independent jurisdiction. Enthroned in their 
strong castle (the ruins of which still crown their grassy hill), 
overlooking the church-town of the vale of Ken (Kirkby Ken- 
dal), their little dominion reaching on one side to the sea, and on 
the other engirdled by the coronal of mountains and lofty moors 
which hold the fountains of the Ken and its tributary streams, 
they must have known little, and cared less, about the fortunes 
of Appleby and Brough. The origin of the county of West- 
moreland, as the term is now understood, dates from a legal 
decision given in 1227, in a suit between AVilliam de Lancaster, 
eighth baron of Kendal, and Robert de Yeteripont, the newly- 
appointed sheriff of Westmoreland. The sheriff claimed that his 
writs should run in the barony, and that the baron and his 
tenants should make suit to his county-court at Appleby. These 
claims were resisted by William of Lancaster; but the cause was 

^' e.g. Askham, Bampton, Dufton, Win ton, Wharton, Heversham, Preston, 
Middleton, Hutton, &c. 

" Corry, in his History of Lancashire (vol. ii. p. 1), translates Evrvicshire by 
Everwickshire^ a county of which he may claim to be the first and sole dis- 

The Colonisation of Northumhria, 599 

given against him, with the proviso that the king's itinerant 
justices were to try pleas touching his tenants at Kendal, if so 
required. Thenceforward, the county-court for the Kendal and 
Appleby districts being one, the county of Westmoreland was 
luiderstood to include the barony within its limits. These limits 
have ever since remained substantially the same, though part of 
Avhat is now Lancashire was included in the county down to the 
reign of Henry YII., and the exact border on the side of York- 
shire Avas disputed in many places so lately as forty years ago.^* 

3. An almost incredible amount of nonsense has been writ- 
ten about Lancashire. Whitaker, the w^ell-known historian of 
^Manchester, whose investigations into the Roman antiquities 
of the county w ere really nseful and fruitful, seemed to lose all 
his sagacity when he came to the Saxon times ; and succeeding 
antiquaries have emulated or surpassed him in extravagance. He 
quietly assumed that, since the south of England, or at any rate 
Wessex, was divided into shires towards the end of the seventh 
century, therefore there was a shire of Lancaster at the same 
period. "About 680^^ was the date he fixed on for the formation 
of his imaginary shire. But a Lancaster- shire implies a capital 
named Lancaster ; ergo, Lancaster was the capital of the shire 
in the seventh century. Such, without exaggeration, is the sub- 
stance of Whitaker^s reasoning on this matter.^^ Corry,^^' Brit- 
ton and Brayley, and even Mr. Edward Baines,^'^ follow in the 
same track. Corry assumes that a " Loncaster-scyre," — he is 
evidently punctilious about the orthography, — was at any rate 
formed by Alfred, if not earlier ; and the same notion, together 
with the word, is taken up by Mr. Baines. 

But this hypothesis, when pressed, is found to be absolutely 
baseless. Na such political unit as Lancashire was in existence, 
by that or any other name, for at least two generations after the 
Conquest. In the Saxon times this territory always formed part 
of Northumbria; it must have been regarded as a sort of out- 
lying province of Deira, lying beyond the western moor-hills, 
full of swamps, mosses, forests, and high hills, and only in places 
lierc and there repaying the trouble of tillage. To this day little 
more than one-fourth of the surface of the county is said to be 
under the plough.^^ AVhen Domesday Book w^as compiled, the 
southern portion was considered to be in some way attached to 
Cheshire, while all thp northern parts were comprehended in 
Yorkshire. Thi" wni be more fully explained presently. 

That the Teutonic colonisation of this part of England was 

'"^ See Hodgson's large map of Westmoreland. 

'■' Hist, of Manchester, ii. 122. ^ Hist, of Za7icashire, 1825. 

^' Hist, of Count?/ and Duchy of Lancaster ^ 1836. 

^^ Lewis's Topogr. Diet. 

600 The Colonisation of JSorthumbria, 

carried on from the eastward, there can be no reasonable doubt. 
No mention or trace of any landing of Saxons, Angles, or North- 
men on the Lancashire coast is to be found any where. Nor is 
it likely that any part of the county, except a mere fringe along 
its southern border, was peopled from Cheshire. Cheshire was 
not firmly held by the Mercian kings till after the middle of the 
eighth century; nor would the Northumbrian kings, until the 
Danish descents had weakened their power, have allowed Mer- 
cian settlers to encroach upon their territories. For that Lan- 
cashire was from the earliest times deemed part of Northumbria, 
seems placed beyond a doubt by the express statements in the 
Saxon Chronicle (an. 798, 923) that Whalley and Manchester 
were both in that kingdom. 

Assuming, then, that the first Teutonic immigrants came 
from the eastward, — from Yorkshire, — on what lines did their 
colonising operations proceed ? Considerations partly historical, 
partly geographical, enable us to answer the question with some 
confidence. To the Angles of Deira the natural approaches to 
Lancashire must have been three : 1. the Aire valley as high as 
Cold Coniston, thence across the low watershed to the Ribble, 
near Long Preston, and so down that river; 2. the same route 
as far as Long Preston, thence across the easy pass in the hills, 
now traversed by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, to the 
valley of the Wenning, and down that river to the Lune ; 3. the 
Koman road (Iter VI. in Richard of Cirencester's Itinerary) 
leading from York by Tadcaster and Slack (Cambodunum), over 
the dividing range near Saddleworth, down upon Manchester, 
and on to Chester. The two first routes, besides that they evaded 
the difficulty of crossing the bleak and barren wastes of moor- 
land which form the greater part of the boundary between Lan- 
cashire and Yorkshire, and presented the advantage of successive 
eligible locations along the whole route, led also to the most 
fertile portions of Lancashire, Ribbledale and Lonsdale. That 
by these routes the county received the bulk of its Angle popu- 
lation, we see little reason to doubt. The third route was pro- 
bably most used for military purposes. From the mention by 
Bede of the victory of Ethelfrid over the Britons near Chester 
in 607, it may be inferred that he must have led his army across 
South Lancashire; and it seems highly probable that he took 
advantage of the Roman road by Slack, which would lead him 
nearly in a direct line to the point he aimed at, and the firm 
construction of which must have made it even then, in spite of 
winter storms and the neglect of two centuries, passable by help 
of slight repairs to an Angle army and its slender baggage-train. 

Before the Conquest only two historical events are recorded 
as occurring in Lancashire; the notices of these are found in the 

The Colonisation of Northumhria. 601 

Saxon Chronicle and in Simeon of Durliam. In 798 a battle 
was fought near Whalley, a place on the Calder, a tributary of 
the Kibble, between Eardulf king of Northumbria, and a rebel 
force headed by Wada, the chief among the conspirators who 
had murdered King Ethelred two years before. The conspira- 
tors had apparently taken refuge in this remote part of the king- 
dom, and Eardulf was advancing upon them out of Yorkshire. 
Wada was completely defeated. It is also recorded that in the 
year 923 King Edward, the son of Alfred, sent a force of Mer- 
cians to " Manige-ceaster^^ (Manchester) in Northumbria, to 
repair and garrison the place. This was part of the wise policy 
which Edward steadily pursued, to curb the turbulence of the 
Danish population in the north of England by estabhshing for- 
tresses at different places, garrisoned by those on whose fidelity 
he could rely. Manchester had probably been laid in ruins in 
the course of one of the Danish Halfdene^s devastating raids, 
soon after the accession of Alfred. 

There is no reason to doubt that the existing boundary 4ine 
between Cheshire and Lancashire coincides as nearly as possi- 
ble with the southern boundary of the Northumbrian kingdom. 
This, then, would appear to be an instance of the abandonment of 
the principle of natural boundaries, since the Mersey, which di- 
vides the counties, is, above Warrington, a fordable river. But 
there was another principle which seems to have had no little 
power in the breast of an Anglo-Saxon, and to have modified in 
this and other cases his adherence to the first principle; — we 
mean his unfeigned respect for the imperial race whose traces he 
found every where preexisting in Britain. Thus we read that 
the townspeople of Lugubalia (Carlisle) took a pride in showing 
to St. Cuthbert the beautiful Roman remains in their city.^9 The 
Saxons loved to preserve Roman names of places, though gene- 
rally in a corrupt form ; and wherever they found traces of a 
Roman encampment, they took care to consign the fact to per- 
petual remembrance by embodying the Latin word castra in the 
name of the town or village which grew up on the spot. There 
is every reason to believe that this was their practice Avhile yet 
pagans ; Lege-ceaster (Chester), which was threatened by the 
pagan Ethelfrid in 607, must have been so named by the Angles 
before Christianity had penetrated so far north ; and Wintan- 
cestir (Winchester) and Rhofes-cestir (Rochester) are spoken of 
by Bede^^ in such a manner as to make one conclude that they 
were already so named when first chosen as bishops' sees. When, 
with Christianity, the Latin language and some acquaintance 
with ancient history and literature were introduced, these reve- 
rential feelings for what was Roman must naturally have been 

53 Bede, Vita S. Cuthb. ch. xxvii. ^ Hist Eccl. iii. 7 and ii. 3. 

602 The Colonisation of Northumhria, 

deepened. Again^ in view of the strong instinct of all colonising 
races, but especially of the Teutonic race, to extend their settle- 
ments and their administrative systems until stopped by the 
natural barriers of seas and mountains, it is not easy to explain 
the adoption of the Thames as the boundary between Wessex 
and Mercia, except by supposing that the Saxons designed 
thereby to sanction and perpetuate a Roman arrangement, in 
virtue of which that river had formed the dividing line between 
Britannia Prima and Flavia Csesariensis. Similarly, the know- 
ledge that under the Romans the Mersey had formed the boun- 
dary on the west between Flavia and Maxima Caesariensis pro- 
bably induced the Angles of Northumbria and Mercia to acqui- 
esce in that conventional frontier. 

For the Britons, on the other hand, both Angles and Saxons 
seem to have felt such unmeasured aversion and contempt, that 
they tried to sweep all trace of them from the face of the land. 
Even the holy and venerable man in whom the Angle race 
reached its culminating point in history, suffers his pen to wan- 
der into expressions of unusual harshness when his subject is 
the "impious'^ and "perfidious" race of the Britons. All British 
names of places seem to have been designedly repudiated by the 
new-comers, and, so far as they could effect it, consigned to ob- 
livion. Except in Cornwall and the counties bordering on Wales, 
there are but very few^ cases of a town or village bearing a dis- 
tinctively British name to be pointed out on the map of Eng- 
land; and one of the obvious exceptions, Carlisle (Caer-leol), goes 
far to prove the theory supported in our remarks on Cumber- 
land, viz. that the Britons recovered Carlisle from the Angles, 
arid held it for a long period. For the Angle name was Luel ; 
and the Celtic Caer would never have been prefixed to it, had 
the place remained uninterruptedly in Angle hands. 

A glance at the Domesday record shows that, before it was 
compiled, Lancashire had had a long and eventful history, though 
it is irretrievably lost for us. All the principal kinds of human 
activity, mechanical, political, and spiritual, had there been exer- 
cised, and had transmuted the wilderness into a land of tilth, 
meadow, and hill-pasture, studded with communities of men 
who had " called the lands after their own «iiames.^^ How sug- 
gestive, how eloquent to the imagination, are the mere names of 
the villages as they stand in the old record ! How do the few 
meagre statistics about them, set down in the curtest and most 
matter-of-fact way, set one thinking, and reconstructing in one's 
mind the form of English society as it was by Irwell-side or 
under Pendle Hill eight hundred years ago ! Salford was then 
a bigger place than Manchester. Lancaster was merely one 
'' vill'' amongst many, and apparently not the most considerable. 

The Colonisation of Nor thumb ria. 603 

appertaining to tlic manor of Halton, a village higher up the 
Lunc. Preston was a place of great importance, — a manor that 
had been held by Tosti earl of Northumbria, brother of Ha- 
rold, the last of the Saxon kings, to uhich sixty-tvro " vills" in 
the district of Amouuderness (i. e. speaking roughly, the country 
between the Kibble and the Lune) are enumerated as belonging. 
Out of these, however, — so great had been the confusion and 
insecurity in Northumbria during the last two centuries, — only 
sixteen were inhabited at the time of the survey, and that by few 
persons only ; the rest lay waste — '^reliqua sunt wasta/^ 

All the southern part of Lancashire included between the 
^Jersey and the llibblc (terra inter Ripe et Mersham) was in 
some way attached to Cheshire at the date of the survey. For 
in the chapter relating to Cheshire, when, according to the usual 
practice of the compilers of Domesday, after the statistics of the 
county town, with which the chapter opens, the names of the 
great landholders in the county are specified, the following 
passage occurs : 

" In Cestre-scire tenet episeopus ejusdem civitatis de rege 
quod ad suum pertinet episcopatum. 

Totam reliquam terram comitatus tenet Hugo comes de rege 
cum suis hominibus. 

Terram inter Ripe et Mersham tenuit Rogerius Picta- 
vcnsis. Modo tenet rex/^ 

It seems clear from this passage that the country between 
the Ribble and the Mersey was connected with Cheshire at the 
time of the Conquest, though granted separately by the Conque- 
ror to Roger of Poitou, Cheshire falling to Hugh Lupus. It is, 
indeed, quite conceivable that after Northumbria had been irre- 
vocably reduced to an earldom, — a change which, according to 
Simeon of Durham, took place in 952, — some king of England 
should, for purposes of administrative convenience, have attached 
this district to the earldom of Mercia, with which, geographi- 
cally, it is much more closely connected than with Yorkshire. 

Amouuderness also had been originally granted to Roger of 
Poitou, but had lapsed to the king before the date of the survey. 
Of this district, as also of the two divisions of Lancashire farther 
north — namely, Lonsdale South and Lonsdale North — of Sands 
(Furness), the statistics appear in Domesday under the head of 

How these disjecta membra came to be united and consoli- 
dated into the great and historic county of Lancaster, it is not 
easy to explain with clearness and precision. The centralising 
process probably began with the building of the great Norman 
keep which still crowns the castle-hill at Lancaster; the owner 
of that keep was a man to be feared and courted, and the " Ho- 

604 The Colonuation of Northumhria, 

nour of Lancaster" was likely euougli to be created in his favour. 
The county historians all tell us that Roger of Poitou built the 
castle, and was the first lord of the " honour ;"6^ but they seem 
unable to adduce any documentary proof to that efi'ect, though 
it is probable in itself. If, however, he built the castle, it must 
have been after his restoration to his estates and dignities by 
William Rufus; otherwise Lancaster would surely have been 
more honourably mentioned in Domesday book than as a mere 
vill forming part of a large manor. Roger was so unlucky as to 
incur forfeiture a second time. The honour, supposing it to 
have been then in existence, thus lapsed to the crown. By 
Henry I. it was conferred, together with the large crown estates 
in Lancashire, on his favourite nephew Stephen, who granted 
Purness away to a society of Cistercian monks. It was in right of 
these estates that Stephen, at the council of English barons in 1 127, 
took an oath to maintain the succession of the Empress Matilda to 
the crown .^~ During Stephen's reign the Honour seems to have 
remained vested in the crown. At the final pacification in 1153, 
it was agreed that William Count of Mortain, Stephen^s only sur- 
viving son, should, upon doing homage to Prince Henry, have 
granted to him " all the lands and honours possessed by Stephen 
before his accession to the throne. "^^ The honour of Lancaster 
thus passed to William, who dying without issue, the estates must 
have reverted to the crown; and Henry II. seems to have granted 
them, together with the titles of Count of Mortain and Lord of 
Lancaster, to his youngest son John, from whom, in 1093, dur- 
ing Richard I.'s absence on the crusade, the burgesses of Lan- 
caster obtained their first charter of incorporation. Again, dur- 
ing the reign of John, the honour was merged in the crown. It 
so continued during the greater part of the succeeding reign, as 
John^s second son Richard was already, as Earl of Cornwall, 
sufficiently provided for both in respect of wealth and rank. 
In process of time Henry III. had a second son to provide for, — 
Edmund, surnamed Crouchback. He could not give him the 
earldom of Cornwall; for his brother Richard had a son, also 
named Edmund, who succeeded to that by right of inherit- 
ance. It is probable that these Lancashire estates formed the 
largest mass of property still belonging to the crown ; and they 

^' ** The term Honour implied superiority over several dependent manors, 
-whose proprietors were obliged to do suit and service to the superior baron or 
chief, who kept his Honour-court annually with great pomp." Corry, Hist, of 

^' Our historians appear to think it unnecessary to explain how it was that 
Stephen, with his foreign titles and possessions, took the oath as an English 
baron. If county-history were more, and more critically, studied, much of the 
vagueness, inconsequence, and unreality which attach to our early annals would 
be removed. 

^ Lingard. 

The Colonisation of Northumhria, 605 

were granted by Henry III. to Edmund, who was at tlie same 
time created Earl (comes) of Lancaster. Here then, and not 
before, we have the origin of the shire or county of Lancaster, 
" quia comitatus a comite dicitur.^^*^'* Still, however, as the 
abbots of Furness exercised, in virtue of their original grant, an 
independent jurisdiction in that part of Lancashire which lies 
north of the sands, the county was not yet complete. As in the 
case of Westmoreland, a legal decision seems to have been the 
foundation of that settlement of the county boundaries which 
prevails at the present day. The sheriff of the newly-made earl 
insisted that his writs should run in Furness. William de Mid- 
dleton, the abbot, resisted ; and, being summoned by the king's 
justices itinerant to appear at Lancaster, produced his charters, 
and in the main substantiated his claim, subject, however, to 
this proviso, that he should pay the yearly sum of six shillings 
and eight pence to the Earl of Lancaster. The reservation of 
this rent did in fact amount to an admission that Furness was 
part of the county ; and as such it was henceforward regarded ; 
it is so described in a charter of Henry IV. dated in 1412. We 
have thus, to the best of our power, got our disjecta membra 
pieced together. 

4. We must hasten over the chief points in the long history 
of the two closely connected counties of Durham and Northum- 
berland. The distinction between Deira and Bernicia being 
nearly lost sight of after the time of Oswald (642), the two 
counties remained undistinguished portions of the Northum- 
brian kingdom, so long as it was in being. When, in the reign 
of Edred, earls were finally substituted for kings, Osulph was 
made the first earl, and the opportunity was seized, if Ingulphus 
may be believed, ^^ of dividing Northumbria into shires, ridings, 
and wapentakes. But the statement is incredible, or rather has 
no meaning, except so far as the minor divisions are concerned ; 
for Cumberland and Westmoreland, as has been shown, were at 
this time in the hands of the Scottish king. Lancashire did not 
become a county till long after the Conquest ; and Northumber- 
land and Durham were certainly not shires till a still later period. 
Yet it is not unlikely that the great shire of York may have been 
constituted at this period, stopping short at the Tees, between 
which and the Tweed St. Cuthbert owned most of the land, and 
had large powers of jurisdiction, but including large portions of 
what are now Westmoreland and Lancashire. The name of 
Eoferwic-scir probably crept in gradually, being used within 
the county long before the old and expressive name of NorS- 
hymbra-land passed out of the mouths of the people of the 
rest of England. The change must have been firmly estab- 

^^ Sim. Dun. Chron, Eccl. Dunelm. an. 953. ^ Quoted by Lingard. 

606 The Colonisation of Northumbria, 

lislied — if tlie language of the Saxon Chronicle may be relied 
upon — between the years 1016 and 1065. Under the former 
year the chronicler describes the march of Canute into North- 
umbria in the direction of York, '*^to NorS-hymbran to Eoforwic- 
weard/' Under 1065, a gathering is mentioned of all the thanes 
in Yorkshire and in Northumberland, " on Eoforwic-scire and on 
NorS-hymbra-lande/^ In the annals of the Norman kings down 
to Edward I., whenever the name Northumberland occurs, it 
must be understood neither of the ancient Northumbria nor of 
the modern county alone, but of this last together with Durham, 
But how came it that the jurisdiction of St. Cuthbert grew 
so potent and reached so far as to create an imperium in imperio 
within the Northumbrian kingdom ? To answer this question 
satisfactorily would involve a complete and careful analysis of 
the famous Legend of Durham ; an enterprise in which, at 
the fag end of a long article, we could hardly expect to carry 
our readers with us. The outlines of the story are these : St. 
Cuthbert, after holding for two years the see which had been 
founded by Aidan at Lindisfarne, died in 687, and was buried in 
the minster on Holy Isle. His sanctity, and the marvellous 
heavenly interpositions which it was believed to draw down, fur- 
nished matter for a biography to his countryman the venerable 
Bede ; and the Life of St. Cuthbert was copied again and again, 
sank deeply into many minds, and was doubtless to be found in 
every monastery in the north.^^ By the monks who boasted to 
be his spiritual descendants it was declared, after some centuries 
had passed, that lands and towns had been freely given to and 
accepted by the saint ; that king Egfrid had given him the city 
of Carlisle, with all the land round it within a radius of fifteen 
miles, and also the lands of Cartmel, on Morecambe Bay, *' with 
all the Britons upon them.^^ What we read in the biography 
and in the Ecclesiastical History leaves a quite different impres- 
sion. In reality, Cuthbert was like one of the old Fathers of 
the Desert : he loved to spend his time in solitude, meditating 
on eternal truths, and to earn his daily bread by the labour of 
his hands. Moreover, he was educated in the school of Bishop 
Aidan, who gave every thing away as fast as he received it, and 
" had nothing of his ow^n besides his church and a few fields about 
it.^'^^ But however this may be, the see was plentifully en- 
dowed and enriched under the successors of St. Cuthbert. After 
Halfdene(in 875-6) had encamped near the Tyne, and portioned 
out a great part of Northumbria among his Danish soldiers, the 
then bishop of Lindisfarne, — Eardulf, — in fear perhaps of ac- 

^^ In a charter of Athelstan, a " Vita S. Cudberti" is given to his church 
along with other valuable presents. Codex Dipt. Ang, Sax. no. 112. 
« Hist. Eccl. ii'u 17. 

The Colonisation of Northnmhria, 607 

lual starvation througli the appropriation of the chnrch-lands 
by the Danes, took the body of St. Cuthbert from its resting- 
place, and, accompanied by many of the tenants, wandered away 
in search of a safer abode. Craik, a small village in the plain of 
York, belonging to the see, lying midway between the Ouse and 
Derwent, and at that time probably hidden among woods, was 
their first place of refuge. The confusion in Northumbria is said 
to have abated after Guthrid was chosen king ; and at the end of 
seven years the fugitives turned their faces homewards. They 
went, however, no farther than Chester-le-Street on the Wear, 
being probably deterred from returning to Lindisfarne by its ex- 
posed position, so dangerously near to the marauding Scots, whose 
kingdom was growing stronger every year, and open to attack 
by sea from the Danish pirates. Here the see continued for 
about a hundred years ; the succession of bishops is to be found 
in Florence. During the miserable reign of Ethelred II. the 
Danes again overran the north ; and Bishop Aldhun, taking the 
relics with him, found shelter for a time in the monastery of 
Ripon. Returning thence in 995, he was led to encamp on the 
hill called Dun-holme, the rough steep sides of which were 
nearly engirdled by the river Wear, while the top was good land 
and tolerably level. A rude tabernacle was built to shelter the 
sacred body, then a chapel — a church — finally a cathedral, round 
Avhich has grown up the city of Durham. 

The above outline of facts, though not vouched for in any 
writings earlier than the twelfth centurj^, is probably in the 
main not far different from what actually occurred. Partly by 
gift, partly by purchase, the see continued to increase its posses- 
sions, until \ery nearly the whole of the present county of Dur- 
ham, together with the district of Norham and Holy Isle, bor- 
dering on the Tweed, were the property of the bishopric. Large 
judicial and magisterial powers were exercised by the Bishop all 
over the see lands, although in this respect he had no advantage 
over the lay holder of a lordship. But the right of asylum, and 
the exemption from all secular burdens, were privileges peculiar 
to St. Cuthbert and his church. 

After the Conquest there seems always to have been a com- 
plete administrative separation between Yorkshire and Nor- 
thumberland. Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, who was left regent of 
the kingdom, jointly with the Bishop of Coutances, while Wil- 
liam was in Normandy, seems to have employed sheriffs in both 
during the first few years of confusion. It does not distinctly 
appear whether Waltheof, the son of Earl Siward, was at any 
time acting as Earl of Northumberland. At any rate, he was 
imprisoned in 1074, and beheaded in 1075; and soon after- 
wards we find Walchere Bishop of Durham carrying on the 

608 The Colonisation of Northumhria, 

temporal government of Northumberland. " The Bishop," says 
William of Malmesbury, " independently of his see, was warden 
of the whole county," that is, of Northumberland and Durham. 
The Bishop was murdered in a tumultuary rising of the country 
people in 1080. About the same time Robert Curthose, the 
Conqueror's eldest son, built on the site of the old Angle town 
of Monkchester, on the left bank of the Tyne, a strong castle, 
which might be of use in curbing any future inroads of the 
Scots. This *^* Novum Castrum super Tinam'^ was the nucleus 
of Newcastle. Walchere is regarded as the first Bishop who 
exercised those "palatine" powers which belonged to the see 
for more than four centuries, and which included the right of 
coining money, of administering justice, of raising troops, and 
of hunting in the royal forests. Still, however, the possessions 
of the bishopric were long spoken of as included in the county 
of Northumberland. Under William Rufus the earldom was 
given to Robert de Mowbray, who lost it through engaging in 
treasonable plots in 1095. For the next forty-three years the 
county was probably in charge of a vicecomes or high sheriff. 
In 1138 Prince Henry, son of David I. of Scotland, was re- 
cognised by Stephen as earl of all Northumberland except the 
castles of Newcastle and Bamborough. Henry died in 1152; 
his eldest son Malcolm became king of Scotland two years later; 
and his second son, William, took the earldom, but had to sur- 
render it in 1157, under the treaty by which Malcolm gave 
up all his rights over the three northern counties. From this 
period down to the reign of Richard II. the government of 
Northumberland seems to have been carried on by high sheriffs 
stationed at Newcastle. The earldom was granted to the Percy 
family in 1377. At what precise period the bishopric came to be 
regarded as a separate county it is not easy to say. Even in the 
fifteenth century it was doubted whether Hartlepool, which, 
though surrounded by the possessions of the see, did not belong 
to it, was in Durham or Northumberland. The palatine rights 
of the bishopric were materially abridged by Henry VIII., and in 
modern times have been altogether abrogated : the last to ex- 
ercise them was Bishop Van Mildert. The outlying portion of 
Durham along the Scottish border was only incorporated with 
Northumberland in the year 1841. 

[ 609 ] 


With all its anomalies, the English poor-law is perhaps the 
most characteristic result of that common social and political 
activity which is expressed by the words "constitution in Church 
and State." The form of words belongs to a time when the 
Church was not only an aggregate of bishoprics and parishes, 
but a great living corporation, the representative and patroness 
of all other corporate bodies, the teacher and mistress of all the 
civilisation and progress which depend on social cooperation, 
and are independent of the control of the State, — when she 
was the almoner of the poor, the educator of the ignorant, the 
repositary of science and art, the maker of roads, the builder of 
bridges, the cultivator of lands, and the promoter of medical 
science by her hospitals, and of commerce and manufacture by 
her guilds. If we understand by " Church" merely the Establish- 
ment in relation to our present society, with its chapter-houses 
and cathedrals, its privileges and its means of proselytism, the 
phrase " constitution in Church and State" represents a nuisance 
which loudly asks for reform. But if we understand " Church" 
in its representative and symbolic sense, as denoting all natural 
and voluntary associations and corporations which aim at objects 
outside the sphere of political regulation, the phrase is still the 
venerable formula of English liberty. It proclaims that there is 
in our society something previous to the State — a corporate life 
of the people in families, associations, and religious bodies, over 
which the State has no sovereign control ; and it asserts, more- 
over, that the two elements. Church and State, though indepen- 
dent of each other, yet together form one inseparable whole, 
and coalesce in one " constitution/^ If we wish to know what 
particular parts of our constitution we owe chiefly to the Church, 
and what to the State, we shall have to examine separately 
each element of our laws, and to trace its development from 
the beginning of our history. 

For instance, political economists who go so far as to own 
that the State may be bound to guarantee employment at ample 
wages to all who are born, which was the principle of the Eliza- 
bethan poor-law, add the condition that, if it does this, it is 
bound in self- protection, and for the sake of every purpose for 
which government exists, to provide that no person shall be born 
without its consent. " Society can feed the necessitous if it 
takes their multiplication under its control, .... but it cannot 
with impunity take the feeding on itself, and leave the multiply- 

610 The Rise of I he English Poor-Latv. 

ingfrcc."* In a similar way, the evils resulting from mendi- 
cancy and vagrancy have often occasioned the enactment of 
severe laws against private almsgiving, and the prohibition of all 
doles except those distributed through certain channels. Yet 
what can be more monstrous than that the State should claim a 
sovereign control over marriage, and over the acts of Christian 
charity ? 

For the Church, with her crowds of religious persons vowed 
to celibacy and labour, had a corresponding right to encourage 
population and to feed the miserable. Her clergy and nuns, by 
their self-imposod abstinence, made room for the multiplication 
of those who had not received the gift of continence ; her labori- 
ous monks, who could not consume the fruit of their own toil, 
had a right to confer it upon the miserable. In doing this they 
did no mjury to the commonwealth; and the State recognised 
their claim when it acquiesced in the law that " the miserable " 
belonged to the sphere of the ecclesiastical tribunals. The 
Church had purchased for them a place in society, and had given 
them a right of existence which was not recognised in the Pagan 
state. The State at first was grateful for this, and willingly co- 
operated wdth the Church in her measures of poor-relief; but 
in time, partly through abuses in the Church, partly through 
the inconveniences necessarily arising from the arrangement, 
and partly through oblivion of the evil from which the Church 
had once delivered society, the State separated itself from the 
Church, then opposed her, and at last deprived her of all means 
of fulfilling this mission, and so found itself obliged to undertake 
what had hitherto been the function of the Church. 

The provision made for the poor by the medieval Church 
may be divided into two parts. The first was an imperative 
tax laid on the owners of property. A law, attributed to St. 
Simplicius, ordered that one quarter of the tithes should be a})- 
propriated to the maintenance of the poor of the parish. The 
second was the fruit of voluntary acts of self-sacrifice made 
by the clergy and religious, who devoted themselves, and the 
pious laity, who devoted their property, to the maintenance of 
the poor. Of these two modes of provision, the first was that 
which had the earlier political significance. For, as the first 
necessity of civilisation^ after the break-up of the Roman system 
in Europe, was to settle the roving barbarians in fixed habita- 
tions, where their families and their property might give some 
security for their good behaviour, Church and State both strove 
to attach the population to the soil. The council of Tours in 
the sixth century ordered that each place should maintain its 
own poor, and prevent the vagabondage of mendicants ; and 

' Mill, Political Economy, fourth ed., 18-57, i. 430. 

The Rise of the English Poor- Law, 611 

though the laws of Dagobert, Pepin, and Charlemagne protected 
the religious pilgrim, yet pilgrimages were discouraged by the 
gravest divines ; and the growing custom, which made all the 
inhabitants of a district answerable for the delinquencies of each, 
tended to put social difficulties in the way of unlimited vagabond- 
age. But after the tendency to local settlement had developed 
into the system of serfage, the needs of civilisation became differ- 
ent. The mobilisation of the population became the great prob- 
lem of the age. The share which the Church took in this great 
work has never been sufficiently appreciated. The agency which 
she employed was not the parochial relief given by the secular 
clergy, but the exceptional action of the religious orders. The 
Benedictines had already performed a similar service to the 
world. They had shown the way to fuse together the Goth and 
the Roman patrician on the common ground of manual labour, 
and to make it possible for their descendants to dig their gardens 
or farm their estates without losing caste, as they might in a 
land of slaves. But in the middle ages the*Benedictines did not 
directly promote the manumission of individual serfs, except as 
the founders of burghs, where the slave might become free after 
habitation for a year and a day, yet prepared for their wholesale 
emancipation by helping to bring about those conditions of 
property without which the emancipated serf could not obtain a 
living. In the early years of the feudal system land was not 
saleable, because there was no moveable property to give for it. 
It could only change owners by being given to the Church, 
which leased it out to farmers. Thus the exclusiveness of feudal 
property was first broken down. The system of leaseholds be- 
came common in Church property long before it was introduced 
into secular domains, and many of the serfs were raised to the 
condition of free tenants. Thus the Church, still remaining an 
aristocratic proprietor, began the mobilisation of real property, 
and paved the way for that division of land and improved culture 
without which the existence of the third estate is impossible. 

In the mobilisation of the serf himself the Church had a 
great share. The popular tendency towards breaking connection 
with the soil found its religious expression in the Crusades and 
in pilgrimages, and a sanction as well as an expression in the 
extraordinary and sudden development of the military and men- 
dicant orders. At this period the history of the Church shows 
that pity for the weak and oppressed was elevated into the domi- 
nant passion of Christendom. The military orders consecrated 
weakness. The forlorn condition of the widow and orphan lost 
its reproach, and was raised into a kind of sacred state, able to 
impart a blessing to its champions. The Franciscans did for 
pauperism and leprosy, for the vagrant and mendicant, what the 

VOL. IV. * * 

612 The Rise of the English Poor-Law\ 

Benedictines had done for labour, and the military orders for 
the orphan and widow. 

Not that these movements grew from any formed political 
idea. They were religious in intention only; and whatever politi- 
cal results arose from them were a spontaneous and unlooked- 
for growth. The pilgrimage was the pretext on which the serf 
wandered from his lord's domain.^ The crusade, by arming 
masses of serfs, must have had an influence on their eventual 
emancipation, analogous to that of the standing army of Russia, 
which has led to a like result, or to the probable effect of the 
arming of slaves by the American Confederacy. The religious 
orders crowned the edifice, not only by the provision which their 
hospitals and charitable institutions made for the houseless wan- 
derer, but by the religious sanction the example of the mendi- 
cant friars gave to the vagabondage which all historians own to 
have been a necessary, however lamentable, concomitant of the 
transition from slavery to freedom. The condition of the va- 
grant beggar could not have become more tolerable than that of 
the immobilised serf, unless his condition had been made honour- 
able and respectable, by being shared with the most respected of 
ecclesiastics. It is thus not only true that vagrancy, with its 
train of ills, was the shadow of a good already accomplished — be- 
cause, '^ if the people had not ceased to be slaves, they could not 
have possessed a freedom of action, or resorted to vagrancy as a 
means of living" — but it is further true that it was the necessary 
atmosphere, the condition sine qua non, of the process of accom- 
plishing this good. It was so understood by contemporaries 
most interested in the question. The feudal lords, in their 
efforts to check the movement, made no direct laws against eman- 
cipation, but only against vagrancy and mendicancy, as know- 
ing that if they could check these the cause of them would be 
stifled. As long as the Church had been content to practise 
local almsgiving, without encouraging the poor to emigrate from 
their homes, the lords accepted her cooperation, and allowed 
her to support their worn-out labourers. But as soon as she 
became an aid to the serf in his attempts to gain his freedom, an 
opposition sprang up which increased in violence till its climax 
in the sixteenth century. There is no doubt that Wat Tyler in- 
surrections. Jack Cade riots, and Pilgrimages of Grace, naturally 
incidental as they are to the fermentation which changes the 
rough juice of barbaric society into the wine of civilisation, are 
terrible evils in themselves, and doubly terrible to the classes 
which they menace. The legislature tried to kill the weed in 
the roots by cutting off vagrancy. This was the first germ of 

' The Act 12 Richard II., 1388, contained a clause against servants or la- 
bourers moving from their residences " by colour to go in pilgrimage." 

The Rise of the English Poor-Law. 613 

our civil poor-law. While the Church fed the wanderer and 
blessed the mendicant, the State enacted penal laws against the 
vagrant, the sturdy beggar, and the person who relieved them; 
it tied each peasant to the soil, took from him all right of loco- 
motion, except at stated intervals and under strict conditions, 
settled the amount of his wages, and prescribed the time he was 
to work for his master. The Church, in the council of Toulouse, 
defended the wanderer, and reenacted the laws of Dagobert, 
Pepin, and Charlemagne, in his favour. The State enacted that 
no servant or labourer, man or woman, should at the end of his 
terra leave his master or his home, to serve or dwell elsewhere, 
or to go on pilgrimage, without license under the king's seal, 
under pain of the stocks, and further punishment at the discre- 
tion of the justices. He was to be compelled to work at the 
fixed price ; and both man and master were punished if higher 
wages were given. Any one who had been an agricultural 
labourer up to the age of twelve years was to remain so for life, 
and not to get apprenticed in a town, where he might gain his 
liberty by residence for a year and a day. Beggars were to be 
treated as vagrant labourers ; impotent beggars were allowed to 
remain in the town where they found themselves, unless it was 
incapable of supporting them, when they were to remove to the 
place of their birth. The Franciscans were the missionaries and 
hospitallers of the v^retched suburbs of the towns where the 
vagrants would naturally congregate. There the serf flying 
from his lord would find in them protectors, who would do their 
best to hide him from the strict search which the magistrates 
were directed to make for him by such poor-laws as then 
existed. These first germs of our civil poor-law are simply re- 
pressive; they make no provision for any one; they look like 
" an attempt to restore the expiring system of slavery,^-* and to 
repress the abuses which naturally grow like a fungus from a 
soil rich in ecclesiastical foundations of charity, which often en- 
courage the idle and profligate as much as the deserving poor. 
'* The hospitality of the abbeys,-'^ says Fuller, '^ was charity mis- 
taken; they only maintained the poor they made. Vagrants 
came to consider the abbey their inheritance, till beggary was 
entailed on their posterity.'^ " The blind eleemosynary spirit," 
says Hallam, " was notoriously the cause, not the cure, of beg- 
gary and wretchedness. It promoted the vagabond mendicity 
which the severe statutes in vain endeavoured to repress." The 
same criticism was passed in France. Henry II., in 1547, ob- 
liged all religious foundations to discontinue their alms to 
mendicants, because it only served "d^attraire les valides, et 
les detournoit d'oeuvrer et travailler." 

Thus we have three original elements of the poor-law — two 

614 The Rise of the English Poor-Law. 

ecclesiastical and one civil. The first was the local, parochial, 
and compulsory relief of the poor, reduced to system, and founded 
on principles which, though next to impracticable in the State, 
are fundamental in the moral code of the Church. " Extreme 
necessity," says the canon law, "makes all things common ;^^ 
" it excuses theft, and palliates robbery with violence ;" " in a 
general dearth food becomes common property;" and even in 
ordinary times " both clergy and laity are bound to provide alms, 
even by their own manual labour, in order to assist those in ex- 
treme need." And the ecclesiastical tribunals were empowered to 
enforce these principles. "Although the poor man could not 
bring a direct action against the rich to compel him to assist him, 
yet he might implore the ecclesiastical judge to compel him," by 
the use of the means entrusted to his discretion; for, in the 
Church, acts of charity are as real duties as those of justice; and 
she has a right to employ whatever compulsory measures the 
state of society allows her to use in forcing her children to do 
their duty. But the odiousness of this power of compelling 
the laity to perform the duties of charity was mitigated by the 
exemplary self-denial of ecclesiastics, who by their self-restraint 
checked the tendency to overpopulation, and by their labours 
secured a surplus of food to distribute to whomsoever they 
pleased. The abbeys and hospitals were the centres of this 
voluntary and arbitrary charity, which formed the second eccle- 
siastical element in the system of poor-relief. These two ele- 
ments formed the substantial and positive basis of poor-relief; 
the third requisite was a negative check upon the abuses to 
which they would naturally give birth. The tendency of the 
principles of the Church was to break down the absolutism 
of property in favour of the needy. On the other side was the 
State, with its notions of property so rigid, absolute, and one- 
sided, that it made property of men, in order to secure to the 
owner the usufruct of his domains. This antagonism found ex- 
pression first in the savage legislation against rogues and vaga- 
bonds, and then in the pillage of the Reformation. Such was the 
way in which the State discharged its function of seeing that the 
exuberant charity of the Church did not exceed the bounds of 
just economy, and promote the growth of a dissolute and idle 
proletariate, to the detriment of the aristocracy and the la- 

Each of these three elements of the poor-law had its period 
of predominance. In the height of the feudal system, when the 
serfs were attached to the soil, parochial relief was the only 
thing wanted ; the interests of the lord led him to institute 
sufficient checks upon idleness. In the period of emancipa- 
tion and mobilisation of the serfs, the voluntary relief of the 

. The Rise of the English Poor-Law, 615 

religious orders -n-as chiefly in request ; so much so that the old 
regulation, appropriating a fourth part of the tithe to the paro- 
chial poor, fell into disuse, and it became a common thing to 
make over the tithes of a parish to an abbey or hospital. The 
necessary result of this was to divert the tithes from the relief of 
the parish poor. Hence arose a new quarrel between the secular 
and the regular clergy, and between the regular clergy and the 
State. The celebrated Walter Map, before 1200, and the more 
celebrated Kobert Grosseteste, in the first half of the next cen- 
tury, satirised and opposed the endeavours of the monasteries to 
appropriate the possessions and tithes which were meant for local 
uses and resident priests. Archbishop Stratford, in the provincial 
synod held in London, Oct. 10, 1342, declared that it was the 
office of churchmen to see that the poor were not defrauded of 
their share of the tithes and other ecclesiastical property, and 
that the local poor had a better right than strangers to the tithes 
of any given parish. But, he continued, when the regular clergy 
obtained the impropriation of benefices, they applied the pro- 
ceeds to their own uses, or to relieve their own poor ; hence, he 
said, proceeded the general indevotion of tithe-payers and the 
audacity of church-robbers. He therefore decreed that, in every 
case of appropriation of a benefice to a religious house, a certain 
proportion of the revenue, to be determined by the bishop, should 
be given in alms to the poor of the parish, under pain of seques- 
tration. Fifty years afterwards, in 1392, the legislature enacted 
a similar law. In every license of appropriation of tithes to a 
religious house, the bishop was to ordain a convenient sum of 
money to be distributed yearly out of it to the poor parishioners. 
The concentration of charitable foundations in these religious 
establishments, and the great doles distributed at their doors, 
caused an endless movement of the poor population, which soon 
produced social evils and political troubles like the risings of 
Tyler and Cade. And now the objection which, when originally 
made by William de Sancto Amore against the Mendicants, was 
inapplicable and unjust, became more and more true politi- 
cally. " If," he said, " religious men who are able-bodied and 
strong may live on alms without labouring with their hands, 
others may do the like. But if all were to choose to live in that 
way, society would perish.^ '^ By their example, says an invec- 
tive against the English Friars, 

'' debacchantur servi 
Et in servos Domini nimis sunt protervi."* 

When the movement became such as they could no longer sanc- 
tion, they lost their popularity with the people by opposing 

3 Inter Op. S. Thorn. Aquin., vol. xix. p. 341. 
* Monumenta Franciscana, Append, p. 592. 

616 The Rise of the English Poor-Law. 

them, but did not regain the favour of the rich, who looked 
upon them as the cause of a state of things in which, as a con- 
temporary poet sings, 

" Servit nobilitas, et rusticitas dominatur, 
Ad res illieitas omnis plebs prascipitatur,"* 

This state of things introduced the period of the predominance 
of the third element of our poor-law, when, in opposition to 
the Church, which with indiscriminate benevolence had relieved 
all applicants, thus encouraging vagrancy, and collecting masses 
of dissipated vagabonds round her great houses, the State set 
itself to put down vagrancy by the most cruel laws, to force 
every landless man to have an ostensible employment, to dis- 
tribute the eleemosynary relief equally through all districts, 
instead of allowing it to accumulate in centres, which therefore 
became thronged with pauper pilgrims, and to confine the 
labouring classes to the places where they were born. 

It is strange that this merely negative system should have 
recommended itself to statesmen as, in itself, a sufficient solution 
of the problem of poor-relief. But theory was aided by passion ; 
and, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, the inconveniences 
of mendicity had increased to such a pitch that the one thing 
needful seemed to be the destruction of the evil in its roots. 
Hence an Act of 1530, after providing that the impotent poor 
might beg within the limits assigned them by the magistrates, 
and that sturdy beggars should be whipped at the cart's tail, 
and passed to their parishes, went on to ordain that scholars 
without letters from their universities, shipwrecked mariners, 
proctors, pardoners, quacks, physiognomists, and pal misters, when 
caught begging, were to be whipped, whipped and pilloried, or 
whipped, pilloried, and curtailed of their ears, and that their 
harbourers and relievers were to be fined at the discretion of the 

Those who are acquainted with Chaucer's pictures of English 
manners will have no difficulty in seeing that this law was directed 
against the same religious abuses which he had satirised two 
centuries before, and will acquiesce in the commentary of Sir 
George NichoUs, who observes that "the priests and inferior 
clergy were all, more or less, beggars or solicitors of alms, and 
those of the mendicant orders were professedly such ; so that, 
partly from custom, and partly from teaching and example, not 
only was begging tolerated, but the profession of a beggar was 
regarded as not being disgraceful. Against habits and impres- 
sions thus countenanced and upheld the legislature had to struggle 
in its endeavours to suppress mendicancy." 

» Political Songs, i. 227. 

The Rise of the English Poor-Law. 61 T 

But the legislature was not satisfied with merely repressing 
the abuse of the system of relief doled out at the great centres 
of ecclesiastical wealth; it went on to attempt to restore the 
older system of parochial relief. The contribution^ however, was 
not made compulsory upon the rich parishioners ; nor was any 
fixed provision made for the poor by a return to the allotment 
of a quarter of the tithes to the poor. The Act of 1535 (27 
Henry VIII. c. 25), after ordering valiant beggars to be set to 
work, and the impotent poor to be supported, enacts that the 
mayors of towns, and the churchwardens, and two others of 
every parish, should systematically collect voluntary alms of 
the parishioners every Sunday and holiday, in such wise as 
that the poor, impotent, sick, and diseased people might be 
provided and relieved, and the lusty poor might be daily kept 
in continual labour, so that every one should get his own living 
with his own hands. The parochial clergy were to exhort their 
flocks to contribute; an account-book was to be kept of the 
sums collected and spent; and the Act especially provides that 
this book was not to remain in the custody of the parson of the 
parish. No alms was to be given by any person otherwise than 
to the common boxes and gatherings, upon pain of forfeiting 
ten times the value of every such illegal gift. And all persons 
and bodies politic and corporate bound to distribute alms were 
thenceforth to give the same into the common boxes. This clause, 
which deprived the religious houses of all their eleemosynary 
functions, and reduced to a minimum that element of poor-relief 
of which they were the representatives, was logically followed, 
the next year (1536), by the suppression of the small abbeys and 
religious establishments, and in 1539 by the dissolution of all the 
rest except a few hospitals and schools. There seems to have 
been a Utopian idea current that, as the religious houses were 
the direct causes of the vagrancy which infested the realm, when 
these were destroyed, and their revenues distributed among the 
courtiers and gentry, the new beneficiaries would voluntarily 
perform all the duties of parochial relief within their own dis- 
tricts, vagrancy would die out, the local poor would be duly 
cared for, the lands would be delivered out of mortmain, and 
the country would be prosperous. There was a profound feeling 
against the whole ecclesiastical system. As in the twelfth and 
thirteenth centuries the scandal given by the wealthy clergy, 
secular and regular, had given birth to movements for which 
the mendicant orders had supplied a homoeopathic cure, so, in 
the sixteenth, there had again arisen an indignation against the 
new abuses that were protected by the separate jurisdiction of 
the spiritual courts, and a conviction that the mendicant friars 
had, with some exceptions, become infected with the diseases 

618 The Rise of the English Poor-Laic. 

which they had undertaken to cure. Towns were unsafe through 
the throngs of profligate idlers congregated round the abbeys and 
hospitals ; measures of severity had been tried in vain ; and the 
civil governments began to take into their own hands the ad- 
ministration of the "miserable'^ classes, to which the ecclesi- 
astical government had notoriously become unequal. In France 
as well as in England there was a tendency to restore the old 
parochial system of relief, with contributions either voluntary 
or compulsory, to abolish the system of hospices as an en- 
couragment to vagrancy, and to transfer the administration 
and control from the clergy to the officials of the State. In 
Grenoble the government in 1530 imposed a tax on house- 
holders to make up the deficiency of the voluntary collections 
for the poor. In 1538 the parliament of Toulouse imposed a 
poor-rate upon all ecclesiastics, officers of justice, nobles, and 
burgesses. In 1543 and 1544 the municipality of Paris was 
ordered to levy an annual eleemosynary tax for the poor upon 
all princes, nobles, ecclesiastics, religious communities, burgesses, 
and proprietors, and jurisdiction was given to compel the pay- 
ment of the sums assessed. This system seems to have been 
enforced for some time; thirty years afterwards, in 1578, we 
find that collectors who refused to levy the tax were compelled 
to advance a loan of 500 crowns. But these compulsory poor- 
rates were only local and temporary; they took no root in 
France. The edict of Henry II., in 1547, makes no mention 
of them. This edict is in most respects similar to the law of 
Henry YIII. Workhouses were to be established for sturdy 
beggars, and home-relief provided for the infirm poor. In each 
parish the clergy and marguilliers, or churchwardens, were to 
make a list of the poor, who were to receive, either at home, 
or in some other convenient place, reasonable alms out of 
money to be collected at the church-doors, or from house to 
house. Then followed the suppressive clause. All abbeys, 
priories, chapters, and colleges which by ancient foundation 
were obliged to give public alms to mendicants, were to ab- 
stain from doing so, because it only attracted the sturdy and 
made them refuse to work. The money was thenceforth to be 
put into the parochial box. The richer abbeys were allowed 
some liberty of choice ; but they were ordered to assist in pre- 
ference those parishes where the poor were most immerous and 
the alms most scanty. This measure might have been logically 
followed in France, as in England, by the destruction of the 
houses thus deprived of their eleemosynary functions. But they 
were saved ; partly, perhaps, by the commendam. If the great 
lords in England had been holders of the richest benefices and 
abbeys, the dissolution would have been only partial. As it was. 

The Rise of the English Poor-Laio. 619 

every thing conspired to their ruin. The opinion of the mystic 
omnipotence of the State, which characterised the politicians of 
the Renaissance, favoured a government which confidently under- 
took the arduous functions of poor-relief at the very moment 
when it was about to squander the means for performing them. 
The palpable failure of the religious eleemosynary system to keep 
down pauperism had alienated the aristocracy. The nascent com- 
mercial spirit felt itself stifled and fettered by the accumula- 
tions of real property in mortmain, unbalanced by any sufficient 
quantity of moveables and personalty. The privileges of the 
clergy not only seemed hurtful, but they contradicted the 
^' elegance^^ and unity which was the aim of the lawyer, and were 
offensive to the dignity of the layman. And the exasperation 
against mendicants and vagrants had become so great, that the 
public were willing to be rid of them even by the barbarous pro- 
cesses of the latter years of Henry VIII., when 38,000 persons 
suffered death as vagrants, besides the 72,000 who, during the 
course of his reign, were hanged for theft. Even still, after the 
lapse of three centuries, public opinion refuses to honour those 
whose religious celibacy and self-denying labour enable them, as 
well as give them an economical right, to maintain an unproduc- 
tive proletariate. 

In theory, the union of the spiritual and temporal jurisdic- 
tions in the king's hand did not destroy their distinction. They 
were two powers coinciding in one person, like the Austrian and 
Hungarian crowns. Their functions were kept distinct ; and, in 
spite of the great reaction against the Church, poor-relief, though 
regulated by the civil authorities, remained in substance the duty 
of the ecclesiastical corporations. After a brief attempt to ag- 
gravate the atrocity and vindictiveness of the law against vagrants, 
by making slaves of them and their children, the legislation under 
Edward VI. fell into the course begun under Henry VIII. in 
England, and by Henry II. in Erance. In 1551 a Bill was 
passed to make a more ample provision for the impotent poor, 
by rendering the assessment compulsory, not recoverable how- 
ever by civil proceedings, but only in the bishops^ court. Any 
one frowardly refusing to give towards the help of the poor, or 
discouraging others from doing so, was first subjected to the ex- 
hortations of the parson and churchwardens, and then to those 
of the bishop, who, on failure of gentle means, was empowered 
*^ to take order according to his discretion." This provision was 
continued under the reign of Mary ; but the bishop's discretion 
was limited under Elizabeth (1563) by a provision enabling him 
to bind the froward defaulter, under a penalty of 10/., to appear 
at the next sessions (thus transferring his cause to the civil 
tribunals), where the justices, after finding persuasion useless. 

620 The Rise of the English Poor-Law. 

"were empowered to "tax, sesse, and limit upon every such obsti- 
nate person so refusing, according to their good discretion, what 
sum he should pay." In default, he was to be committed to 
prison till he paid the rate and all arrears. 

The secularisation of the poor-relief was further promoted by 
making the hundred, and not the parish, the area of rating, as 
the justices were substituted for the bishops and parsons. This 
tendency was still further developed in 1572 by an Act which 
gave the magistrates the entire control of the poor within their 
divisions, and enabled them to settle paupers in convenient places, 
and to appoint overseers to govern them. It also legalised an 
appeal against excessive assessment, which it ordered to be made 
after a proper estimate of the probable expenses; the justices 
were also empowered to call upon neighbouring hundreds to 
assist those which were overburdened with their own poor. 
Prom this time the legislature went on for a quarter of a century 
in the same direction, taking the control of relief more and more 
from the spiritual functionaries, and occupying itself with the de- 
tails of its administration. It settled the bastardy laws in 1575, 
provided that the sturdy poor should be set to work under collectors 
and governors, and gave the most minute directions about the 
kind of labour, and the materials on which it was to be employed-. 
It also ordered houses of correction to be established under 
" censors" and " warders." But in 1 597 there was a manifest 
reaction, and a return towards the old ideas. Thfe legislation of 
this year was contained in three distinct Acts, 39 Eliz. cc. 3, 4, 
and 5. The first reestablished the old parochial system of relief. 
The overseers appointed by the justices under the Act of 1572 
were continued ; but the churchwardens were overseers ex -officio. 
Besides the rate, voluntary collections in money and kind were 
to be made weekly, and a board to be held every Sunday in 
church after the afternoon service. The Act also borrowed from 
the ecclesiastical law the important principle which made parents 
and children, and grandparents and grandchildren, mutually 
liable for each other^s support. The second Act embodied the 
traditional legislation of the State against vagrancy and mendi- 
cancy. Sturdy beggars were to be stripped naked and whipped, 
and sent to the place of their birth or last residence, there to be 
put to labour. And the third Act re\ived the system of volun- 
tary hospices, which had received so rude a shock from the disso- 
lution of monasteries. Charitable persons were enabled to found 
hospitals, maisons de Dieu, abiding places, or houses of correction, 
as well for the sustentation and relief of the maimed poor, needy, 
or impotent people, as to set the poor to work. These hospitals 
were to be incorporated, and have perpetual succession for ever, and 
were to be ordered and visited as the founder chose to appoint. 

The Rise of the English Poor-Laiv, 621 

The division of these three branches of one subject into three 
separate Acts is a sign that the legislature intended to preserve 
and restore the three distinct functions of poor-relief which were 
originally divided between the Church and the State. First was 
the compulsory parochial relief, in which the poor-rate took the 
place of the fourth part of the tithe ; next came the repressive 
function of the State to obviate the economical dangers of a legal 
provision for the poor; and, thirdly, the system of voluntary 
hospices was legalised, and their management was left to inde- 
pendent corporations. The Elizabethan poor-law of 1601, which 
is still the foundation of our system, only united and amalgamated 
these three functions ; it introduced no new principle, and de- 
stroyed no old one. Our poor-law still rests on the parochial 
system of compulsory alms, on the voluntary system of incorpo- 
rated hospitals and almshouses, and on the repressive action of 
the State, neutralising the temptations to idleness and improvi- 
dence held out by these institutions. 

It is very doubtful whether the unity and centralisation of 
the law of 1601 is productive of unmixed good. It introduced 
a system under which in later times the workhouse became a 
hospice for the impotent, a place of work for the sturdy pauper, 
and a house of correction for the vagabond. It is almost im- 
possible that the same establishment, under the management of 
one superintendent, should serve all these purposes. Accordingly, 
before the reform of 1834, the workhouse had become the hos- 
pice of all the parish poor, even those who deserved correction 
rather than hospitality ; while the tendency when the new law 
was first passed was to make it a house of correction and dis- 
comfort even for those who had a right to it as a hospice. The 
workhouse as a refuge for the old was administered by the 
same regulations that governed it as a mere test of the able- 
bodied pauperis need ; and old couples were, for the sake of uni- 
formity, subjected to the rules necessary for preventing younger 
paupers breeding hereditary paupers in the workhouse itself. 
The principle was generalised that, in order to free the gua- 
rantee of support from its injurious efiects upon the minds and 
habits of the people, it was necessary to accompany the relief 
with irksome conditions, with restraints upon freedom, and with 
the privation of some indulgences. And the tendency of the 
law is to make the aged and impotent poor afraid of asking 
for what they ought to have, because they cannot think of the 
workhouse as a hospice, but only as a penitentiary. This would 
be avoided if the administration of the relief of the infirm and 
aged poor were left to the parochial system aided by charitable 
foundations, while the government kept a still stricter control 
over the relief of the able-bodied pauper in the union workhouse. 

The Rise of the English Poor-Law, 

The State to regulate, the -anion to apply the labour-test to the 
able-bodied applicant for relief, the parish, aided by the hospice, 
not by the workhouse, to provide a refuge for misfortune, sick- 
ness, and age, seems to be the right combination. It is the one 
most consonant with the principles of our poor-law, the imperfec- 
tions of which are attributable to its having been produced in an 
age Avhen wrong notions of the union of Church and State were 
prevalent, and reformed in an age of economists and calculators, 
who took too little heed of the distinct and antagonistic forces 
upon which our poor-law is built. 

[ &23 ] 


The success of Dr. Smith's Dictionaries of Greek and Eoman 
Antiquities, Biography, and Greography, has been such as might 
well encourage even a less enterprising editor to undertake a 
similar publication intended to elucidate the literature, anti- 
quities, biography, geography, and natural history, of the Bible. 
A work of this nature was certain to enlist the interest of a far 
more extensive circle of readers than that for which the other 
dictionaries were intended ; and the difficulty of securing able 
contributors from the many accomplished scholars of whom 
the Established Church may justly boast could not be great. 
The plan of a Dictionary of the Bible was no novelty ; it had 
been frequently executed ; but the progress of biblical researches 
and the discoveries of recent travellers had outstripped the 
learning of even the latest and best of existing dictionaries. 
Dr. Smith might not unreasonably declare to himself that he 
was providing for one of the wants of the day. 

The first Bible Dictionary worth mentioning was given to 
the world by Dom Calmet. The deficiencies of the older dic- 
tionaries had been made so glaring by the publication of his 
Commentary on the Old and New Testament, and the Disserta- 
tions appended to it, that the friends of the learned Benedic- 
tine induced him to publish a work giving the substance, in a 
concise form and in alphabetical order, of all the matters dis- 
cussed by him in the Commentary. Dom Calmet's Dictionary 
was an extremely valuable work at the time in which it ap- 
peared ; it was immediately republished at Geneva, and became 
an authority among Protestants as well as among Catholics ; 
and it has served as the basis of many more recent works of 
the same kind. Its defects are, at the present day, visible 
enough. Biblical science, properly speaking, and particularly 
that department of it known under the name of * Introduction," 
must be considered the creation of one of Dom Calmet's literary 
adversaries, the celebrated Father Eichard Simon, of the Ora- 
tory, who startled and shocked all his contemporaries, Catholic 
and Protestant, not merely by the paradoxes and untenable 
propositions which are scattered through his works, but per- 
haps still more by the statement of facts and principles which 
no scholar would, at the present day, think of calling in ques- 
tion. The science thus created by a French Catholic priest has 

^ A Dictionary of the Bible, comprising its Antiquities, Biography, Geography y 
and Natural History. Edited by William Smith, LL.D. 3 vols. (London: 
John Murray.) 

624 Br. Smith's Dictionary/ of the Bible, 

chiefly been cultivated in Protestant Germany. It could only 
originate in a quarter free from the dogmatic prejudices pecu- 
liar to orthodox Protestantism concerning the divine character 
of the sacred writings ; and such a quarter might be tho- 
roughly Christian.- But, on the other hand, some of the most 
important questions which are involved in the progress of the 
science could only arise historically through the negation of 
the most elementary principles of Christianity. Life must be 
extinct before an organism can be subjected to a complete dis- 
section and analysis ; and many of the questions raised by the 
German critics would never have occurred to any one, had the 
Bible and its component parts been regarded as the channels 
in any true sense of a divine revelation. Sincere believers in 
Christianity may derive profit from the scientific truths elicited 
by these enquiries; but the enquiries themselves presuppose 
a period of thought hostile, or at least indifierent, to Chris- 
tianity. And we know from history that such was actually the 
case. The English and French Deists of the last century, the 
learned and philosophical Jews, who at this day speak with 
admiration of the person of our Lord and of the moral and 
social benefits which Christianity has conferred upon the world, 
may be considered Christian believers, if we give that name to 
all those eminent scholars who have contributed to make bibli- 
cal science what it is. Biblical science, whatever may have 
been its origin, owes its growth chiefly, not to Christian faith, 
but to scepticism ; and this is one of the principal reasons why 
it has been cultivated in Germany rather than in France or 
Italy. Scepticism has flourished, and still flourishes, in Ca- 
tholic as well as in Protestant countries ; but its direction in 
the latter is naturally determined by the position which the 
Bible is there supposed to occupy as the sole rule of faith. 

In assigning to influences hostile to Christianity so large 
a share in the growth of biblical science, we are, of course, very 
far from implying that the science itself is unfavourable to 
Christianity. This is altogether another question. The philo- 
sophy of St. Thomas and other great thinkers of the Middle 

' "Zwar unraittelbar hatte die Reformation keinen giinstigen Einfluss auf 
die Entwickelung dieser Wissenschaft, allein die manchfaltige Anregung geisti- 
ger Thatigkeit auf dem exegetischen und historischen Gebiete der Theologie, 
welche durch sie vermittelt wurde, konute nicht ohne Riickwirkung auf die 
Vorstellungen von der Bibelgeschichte bleiben. Doch waren es die Katholiken 
welche, vielleieht durch das Dogma ihrer Kirche weniger gehindert, nicht nur 
zuerst den bereits angehauften Stoflf zu sammeln und zu verarbeiten suchten, 
sondem auch frilher als die Protestanten zu Methoden und Resultaten ge- 
langten, welche nochjetzt mit Nutzen befolgt und mit Anerkennung genannt 
warden kiinnen. Spater erst, und wohl von griissern dogmatischen Hinder- 
nissen beengt kameu die Protestanten an die lleihe." Kcuss, Geachichte der 
/leiligen Schriften Neuen Testaments, p. 8. 

Dr, Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, Q^iy 

Ages originated in speculations of tlie most decidedly anti- 
Christian character. The destructive criticism of some biblical 
scholars has provoked solutions of a conservative character ; 
and these have in their turn been subjected to the ordeal of a 
most searching verification. Is Christianity destined now, as 
in the Middle Ages, to rise triumphantly above the perils of 
scientific speculation ; or, in other words, is scientific specula- 
tion itself likely to favour the Christian side of the controversy ? 
The answer to this must entirely depend on what is meant by 
Christianity. Biblical science stands in very difierent relations 
to the difierent forms or systems of Christianity now existing. 
One of these forms may, from its very nature, be entirely in- 
dependent of the results of biblical science ; a second may be 
modified in accidental, not in essential, details ; while a third 
may be utterly shattered by them. A good Bible Dictionary, 
such as that contemplated in the plan of Dr. Smith, would have 
been of great value in helping to determine the relations be- 
tween biblical science and the forms of Christianity flourish- 
ing in this country. But we shall be disappointed if we have 
recourse for this purpose to the Dictionary as actually exe- 
cuted. Its professed aim is to meet the wants of those ''who 
are anxious to study the Bible with the aid of the latest inves- 
tigations of the best scholars." The aim is not accomplished. 
The " investigations of the best scholars" are indeed mentioned, 
often with the greatest disrespect; but they are rarely pre- 
sented to the readers in the form most appropriate to them. 

The defects of the work which particularly strike us, if not 
numerous, are at least very great; and they run through its 
most important articles. The essential characteristic of a good 
dictionary is objectivity ; and to this quality all others should 
be made subordinate. " II ne faut marquer que ce qui se sait," 
says Calmet in his preface, " et ce qui se pent donner pour cer- 
tain." It is for facts, or for arguments equivalent to facts, that 
we refer to a dictionary, not for eloquent writing, or expressions 
of private opinion (particularly if this opinion be merel}^ secta- 
rian), or ingenious speculations, upon which it is impossible to 
rely. The writer of an article in it should say all that is neces- 
sary for the elucidation of his subject ; he should say it in as 
few words as are compatible with clearness ; and he should say 
nothing else. But the contributors to Dr. Smith's Dictionary 
are often very far from telling us all that they ought to say. 
Instead of a complete and accurate analysis of their subject, 
they pick and choose the parts of it which suit them best ; and 
they often tell us much more than is necessary, either by saying 
what is not true, or what is doubtful, or by indulging in difiuse 
writing and declamation, or by calling names and insinuating 

626 Dr. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, 

improper motives. From these defects, of course, many articles 
are free. The writers do not in general run wantonly into temp- 
tation ; but whenever they are exposed to it, they are sure to 
yield. The articles are of very unequal value ; the most im- 
portant subjects, as a rule, receiving the worst treatment. 

Before proceeding to examine the more important articles, 
it will be well to give some examples of the blemishes which 
belong to the Dictionary as a whole. 

Almost all the contributors to it are, we believe, members 
of the Established Church. No one has a right to complain of 
Anglican divines for expressing Anglican sentiments, when the 
occasion seems to require it. But the strongest theological sen- 
timents can always be expressed in civil language ; and if abuse 
be excusable in the pulpit or in a pamphlet, it is at least insuf- 
ferable in a scientific work of reference. A Dictionary should 
deal with facts and arguments; and facts and arguments are 
not to be disposed of by calling men "rationalists" and unbe- 
lievers. Nothing is to be gained by talking of " Schwegler the 
most reckless, and De Wette the most vacillating of modern 
critics," or quoting Dean Alford on "the insanity of hyper- 
criticism of Baur and Schwegler." Baur's criticism is else- 
where described as " the caricature of captiousness ;" and Dr. 
Thompson says "the authority of the books has been denied 
from a wish to set aside their contents." Lord Arthur Hervey 
would have conferred a real benefit on his readers if he had 
produced successful arguments in behalf of the books of Chro- 
nicles, instead of merely saying that Dahler, Keil, Movers, 
and others have done so, and that " it had been clearly 
shown that the attack [of De Wette and other German critics] 
was grounded not upon any real mark of spuriousness in the 
books themselves, but solely upon the desire of the cintics in 
question to remove a witness whose evidence was fatal to their 
favourite theory of the post-Babylonian origin of the books of 
Moses." This is the way in which a certain number of the 
contributors speak of men to whom thej^ are indebted for almost 
all the learning displayed in their articles, and with whose works 
it is impossible to be acquainted without seeing that their scep- 
ticism was perfectly honest, and grounded on scientific difficul- 
ties not less serious in their kind than those which would prevent 
a chemist or a naturalist from accepting a popular hypothesis 
on a scientific matter. If German Protestants are treated in 
this way in spite of the gratitude due to them, we need not 
expect that Catholics or Catholicism should be spoken of with 
ordinary civility. The nick-names " Romanism," " Romanist," 
" Romish," which well-bred gentlemen would not think of using 
in society where Catholics were present, are here used in what 

Dr. Smith's Dictionary/ of the Bible. 627 

professes to be a scientific Dictionary. And the " Church of 
Eorae" and '' E,omanisin" are made to bear the whole responsi- 
bility of things which are common to all Christians except Pro- 
testants. The Invention of the Cross is asserted by the Greek 
no less than by the Latin Fathers, and held by Abyssinian 
Monophysites and Nestorian Asiatics, no less than by Roman or 
Neapolitan Catholics ; yet Mr. F. W. Farrar writes, " It clearly 
was to the interest of the Church of Home to maintain the belief, 
and invent the story of its multiplication, because the sale of the 
relics was extremely profitable/^ The most narrow-minded dis- 
plays of anti" Catholic feeling are, however, to be found in the 
articles of Mr. F. Meyrick, of which we shall speak later on. 

' II ne faut marquer que ce qui est certain,^ is a golden rule 
but little observed in Dr. Smith's Dictionary. Certainty is not to 
be obtained on all points ; and where it is not, we must be con- 
tent with the greatest amount of probability that can be found. 
But if we were asked to point out the model of such an article as 
ought on no account to be received into a Dictionary, we should 
select Professor Plumptre's on "Urim and Thummim." The 
subject is one of those about which, in consequence of their pro- 
found obscurity, there are "quot capita tot sententiae." No real 
light whatever is thrown upon it by Professor Plumptre. He 
proposes, in place of the many guesses hitherto made on the 
nature of the Urim and Thummim, to substitute some guesses 
of his own. We pass over his remarks on the Thummim, " the 
easier problem of the two," in which he has been anticipated by 
'^ the most orthodox of German theologians," Hengstenberg. 
Having identified the Thummim with a symbolic figure of 
Truth, like "the Egyptian Thmei,'' "we may legitimately ask 
w^hether there was any symbol of Light standing to the Urim 
in the same relation as that in which the symbolic figure of 
Truth stood to the Thummim. And the answer to that question 
is as follows : On the breast of well-nigh every member of the 
priestly caste of Egypt there hung a pectoral plate, correspond- 
ing in position and in size to the choshen of the high-priest of 
Israel. And in many of these we find, in the centre of the 
pectorale, right over the heart of the priestly mummy, as the 
Urim was to be ' on the heart' of Aaron, what was a well-known 

symbol of Light The symbol in this case was the mystic 

Scarabiaeus.'' We are aware that sufficient justice cannot be 
done to Professor Plumptre's ingenious hypothesis, without 
giving the entire chain of plausible reasonings by which it is 
supported. But it is not the less true that if we break the 
strongest of its links the whole chain disappears altogether. 
And the strongest link is broken if the plain truth is told, that 
the mystic Scarabaeus was placed as a talisman on the heart, 

VOL. IV. 1 1 

Dr, Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, 

not of living priests, but of mummies, male and female. It was 
not by any means confined to ''members of the priestly caste of 
Egypt," but was prescribed apparently for all who cared to try 
its efiicacy, not as an oracle in life, as the Urim of the hi^h- 
priest, but as a protection in the world beyond the grave. The 
mode of consulting the IJrim is conjecturally illustrated by re- 
ference to the processes of h5rpnotism, as in " electro-biology," 
or the abstraction of the ofiSaXo'xIrv'x^LKol of the fourteenth cen- 
tury ; it being open to us to believe that these processes "may, 
in the less perfect stages of the spiritual history of mankind, 
have helped instead of hindering." This article is longer than 
any of those on the Gospels ; it has twice as many pages as that 
on the gospel of St. John. The proper place for speculations of 
this kind — and we are sorry to say that they are not confined to 
the article of which we have been speaking — is not a Dictionary, 
but the Transactions of a learned society. 

Difiuseness in every form should have been banished from 
the Dictionary ; the contributors should have studied brevity 
and eschewed rhetoric. Wherever rhetoric is allowed in a 
work of the kind, it is made to do duty instead of argument. 
Some of the articles are of extravagant length. The informa- 
tion contained in "Wilderness of the Wandering" is extremely 
interesting; but if all the subjects had been treated in as copious 
a style, not three but thirty volumes would have been necessary. 
" Star of the Wise Men'' is a comparatively short article, but it 
is lengthened out by such unnecessary embellishments as the 
following : 

" We shall now proceed to examine to wliat extent, or, as it will be 
seen, to how slight an extent, the. December conjunction fulfils the con- 
ditions of the narrative of St, Matthew. We can hardly avoid a feeling 
of regret at the dissipation of so fascinating an illusion ; but we are in 
quest of the truth rather than of a picture, however beautiful, (a) The 
writer must confess himself profoundly ignorant of any system of astro- 
logy ; but supposing that some system did exist," &c. 

!N"o objection could be taken to this style in a dissertation, but 
it is quite out of place in a work where economy of words is of 
real scientific importance. The following is a specimen of the 
style of the article Lazarus : 

" It is well not to break in upon the silence which hangs over the 

interval of that 'four days' sleep' (comp. Trench, Miracles^ 1. c.) 

But this much at least must be borne in mind, in order that we may 
understand what has yet to come, that the man who was thus recalled 
as on eagle's wings from the kingdom of the grave (comp. the language 
of the complaint of Hades in the apocryphal gospel of Nicodemus, 
Tischendorf, Evang. Apoc, p. 305) must have learnt ' what it is to die' 

Dr. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. 6^ 

(comp. a passage of great beauty in Tennyson's In 3femoriam, xxxi. 
xxxii.). The soul that had looked with open gaze upon the things 
behind the veil had passed through a discipline sufficient to burn out 
all selfish love of the accidents of his outward life. There may have 
been an inward resurrection parallel with the outward (comp. Olshausen 
ad loc). What man had given over as impossible, had been shown in 
a twofold sense to be possible with God." 

The miscliief of admitting this sort of composition will, we hope, 
be keenly felt when it is discovered that the argumentative part 
of the article on the Pentateuch is very weak, and concludes 
with a passage beginning as follows : 

" But, in truth, the book [of Deuteronomy] speaks for itself. No 
imitator could have written in such a strain. We scarcely need the 
express testimony of the work to its own authorship ; but, having it, 
we find all the internal evidence conspiring to show that it came from 
Moses. Those magnificent discourses, the grand roll of which can be 
heard and felt even in a translation, came from the heart and fresh from 
the lips of Israel's lawgiver. They are the outpourings of a solicitude 
which is nothing less than parental. It is the father uttering his dying- 
advice to his children, no less than the prophet counselling and admon- 
ishing his people. What book can vie with it, either in majesty or in 
tenderness ? What words ever bore more surely the stamp of genuine- 
ness ? ... .In spite, therefore, of the dogmatism of modern critics, we 
declare unhesitatingly for the Mosaic authorship of Deuteronomy." 

It is certainly much easier to declaim in this fashion than to 
reply to De Wette in De Wette^s own style. 

From these specimens of defects, which are too common 
throughout the Dictionary, we proceed to a closer inspection of 
some of the most important articles, and particularly those 
belonging to the department of " Introduction.^^ 

The article '* Bible," by Professor Plumptre, of King's Col- 
lege, London, is not very important, as the history of the 
growth of the collections known as the Old and New Testa- 
ment respectively is given under " Canon." The following 
passage, however, betrays an extraordinary want either of 
knowledge or of historical sense : 

" The LXX. presents . . . some striking variations in point of ar- 
rangement, as well as in relation to the names of books. Both in this 
and in the insertion of the avTiKeyo^tva, which we now know as the 
Apocrypha, among the other books, we trace the absence of that strong 
reverence for the canon and its traditional order which distinguished 
the Jews of Palestine." 

The writer does not see that he is here taking for granted a 
very important fact, which has never yet been proved, namely, 
the existence of an authoritative canon or tradition anterior to 
the arrangement of the Septuagint. 

630 Dr, Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, 

If we turn to Mr. Westcott's article on " the Canon of 
Scripture," in tlie hope of finding evidence on the subject, we 
shall be disappointed. The account there given of the Jewish 
canon is extremely unsatisfactory. The writer allows that 
before the exile only faint traces occur of the solemn preserva- 
tion and use of sacred books, and that even after the Captivity 
" the history of the canon, like all Jewish history up to the 
date of the Maccabees, is wrapt in great obscurity. Faint tra- 
ditions alone remain to interpret results which are found real- 
ised when the darkness is first cleared away." But Mr. West- 
cott is inclined to attach importance to the " popular belief" 
which assigned to Ezra and the " great synagogue" the task of 
collecting and promulgating the Scriptures. But this popular 
belief cannot be shown to have been in existence till many 
centuries after the death of Ezra, and the tradition about the 
" great synagogue" is demonstrably unhistorical. It is fabulous 
in its details, and involves incredible anachronisms. Ezra, the 
contemporary of Artaxerxes Longimanus, is made to preside 
over an assembly of which Haggai and Zechariah, contempo- 
raries of Darius Hystaspes, and Simon the Just, the contemporary 
of Alexander the Great, were members. An attempt to extract 
history out of such a tradition is not less hopeless than if we 
had to deal with the story of Eomulus. The following are 
Mr. Westcott's not very critical remarks upon it : 

" Doubts have been thrown upon the beHef {Eau de Synag. magndj 
1726 ; comp. Ewald, Ge^ch. d. V. Isr. iv. 191), and it is difficult to 
answer them, from the scantiness of the evidence of the books them- 
selves ; but the belief is in every way consistent with the history of 
Judaism and with the internal evidence of the books themselves. The 
later embellishments of the tradition, w^hich represent Ezra as the 
second author of all the books [2 Esdras], or defines more exactly the 
nature of his work, can only be accepted as signs of the universal belief 
in his labours, and ought not to cast discredit upon the simple fact that 
the foundation of the present canon is due to him. Nor can it be 
supposed that the w^ork was completed at once, so that the account 
(2 Mace. ii. 13) which assigns a collection of books to Nehemiah is not 
described as initiatory or final. . The tradition omits all mention of the 
law, which may be supposed to have assumed its final shape luider 
Ezra, but says that Nehemiah ' gathered together the [writings] con- 
cerning the kings and prophets, and the [writings] of David and letters 
of kings concerning offerings,' while * founding a library.' " 

We have no right to talk of the " later embellishments" of 
a story when we meet them in the earliest form in which it has 
been handed down to us. Again, if the story is to be admitted 
at all, in any form, Mr. "Westcott's notion that the foundation 
of the canon is to be attributed to Ezra, but that the work was 

Dr, Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. 631 

not completed at once, must be given up. Tlie notion is not in 
itself Lin improbable one ; but it is quite irreconcileable with the 
Jewish tradition of " Ezra and the great synagogue" which was 
invented for the purpose of accounting, among other things, for 
the existence of the Jewish canon as a complete and final ar- 
rangement. The passage quoted from the second book of Mac- 
cabees, far from implying the formation or growth of a canon 
of Scripture, would rather seem to prove that in the time of 
Nehemiah the works which he mentioned were not yet con- 
sidered parts of a sacred canon. 

When was the Jewish canon closed, and what books did it 
then contain ? Is there any proof that it was closed before the 
Christian period ? In 1842 Movers published a short disserta- 
tion, entitled Loci quidam historic^ canonis Veteris Testamenti 
illustratiy in which it is maintained, with great learning and 
ability, that the latter question must be answered in the nega- 
tive. Some, indeed, of the views defended by Movers are very 
paradoxical ; but the principal result of his enquiry has not been 
overthrown. The latest researches tend to prove that the pre- 
sent Hebrew canon is not of earlier date than the destruction of 
Jerusalem, and that it is an anachronism to ascribe to the 
Apostles and earliest Christians an idea of the Scripture which 
only became authoritative among the Jews after the final rup- 
ture between the Synagogue and the Church. Mr. Westcott 
does not seem to be aware that so vital a question has been 
seriously raised, and that the very position which he assumes 
when collecting his evidence on the canon has thereby been 

He considers the statement of the Talmud as in many 
respects so remarkable that it must be transcribed entire. It 
is as follows : " But who wrote the books of the Bible ? Moses 
wrote his own book (?) , the Pentateuch, the section about Balaam, 
and Job. Joshua wrote his own book, and the eight last verses 
of the Pentateuch. Samuel wrote his own book, the Book of 
Judges, and Euth. David wrote the Book of Psalms, of which, 
however, some were composed by the ten venerable elders, 
Adam the first man, Melchizedek, Abraham, Moses, Haman, 
Jeduthun, Asaph, and the three sons of Korah. Jeremiah 
wrote his own book, the books of Kings and Lamentations. 
Hezekiah and his friends [reduced to writing] the books con- 
tained in the memorial word laMSCHaK, i. e. Isaiah, Proverbs, 
Canticles, Ecclesiastes. The men of the great synagogue [re- 
duced to writing] the books contained in the memorial letters 
KaNDaGr, ^. e. Ezekiel, the twelve lesser prophets, Daniel, and 
Esther. Ezra wrote his own book, and brought down the 
genealogies of the books of the Chronicles to his own times. . . . 

632 Dr. Smith* s Dictionary of the Bible, 

Who brought the remainder of the books [of Chronicles] to a 
close ? Nehemiah the son of Hachalijah.'' It ought surely to 
be manifest to every scholar that this passage cannot be of the 
smallest historical value. Some of the statements in it are pal- 
pably absurd. Samuel could not have written " his book/' that 
is, the book which bears his name. It records his death, and 
the whole history of the reign of David. But Mr. Westcott 
quietly says, " The details must be tested by other evidence ; 
but the general description of the growth of the Jewish canon 
bears every mark of probability." He cannot understand that 
the passage is not evidence at alF; that when the details sug- 
gested by the names of the books, and the details which " other 
evidence" overthrows, are taken into consideration, the whole 
has no more value as evidence than a similar statement made 
by a Jew or Christian in the fifteenth or in the nineteenth 

It is not true, at least there is no evidence at all, " that at 
the beginning of the Christian era the Jews had only one canon 
of the sacred writings, defined distinctly in Palestine, and ad- 
mitted, though with a less definite apprehension of its peculiar 
characteristics, by the hellenising Jews of the dispersion, and 
that this canon was recognised, as far as can be determined, by 
our Lord and His Apostles." This error leads Mr. "Westcott 
altogether astray, when he comes to speak of the Christian 

" The history of the Old Testament canon among Christian writers 
exhibits the natural issue of the currency of the LXX., enlarged as it 
has been by apocryphal additions. In proportion as the Fathers were 
more or less absolutely dependent on that version for their knowledge 
of the Old Testament Scriptures, they gradually lost in common prac- 
tice the sense of the difference between the books of the Hebrew canon 
and the Apocrypha. The custom of individuals grew into the custom 
of the Church ; and the public use of the Apocryphal books obliterated 
in popular regard the characteristic marks of their origin and A'alue, 
which could only be discovered by the scholar. But the custom of the 
Church was not fixed in an absolute judgment. It might seem as if the 
great leaders of the Christian- body shrank by a wise forethought from 
a work for which they were unfitted ; for by acquirements and constitu- 
tions they were little capable of solving a problem which must at last 
depend on historical data. And this remark must be applied to the 
details of patristic evidence on the contents of the canon. Their habit 
must be distinguished from their judgment. The want of critical tact 
which allowed them to use the most obviously pseudonymous works 
(2 Esdras, Enoch) as genuine productions of their supposed authors, or 
as * divine Scripture,' greatly diminishes the value of casual and iso- 
lated testimonies to single books." 

It is Mr. Westcott*s reverence, no doubt, for the Apostles 

Dr, Smithes Dictionary of the Bible. 633 

and other writers of the New Testament which leads him to 
place implicit reliance on their critical judgment, and to throw 
the responsibility for erroneous views of the canon upon " the 
Fathers," who "gradually" lost the sense of a difference be- 
tween the books of the Hebrew canon and the Apocrypha. The 
gradual change of which he speaks is a fiction of which there 
is no trace in history. The earliest Fathers do not exhibit a 
greater consciousness of the difference between the Hebrew and 
Greek texts of the Scripture than their successors. And if the 
" critical tact" of some of the Fathers was so weak as to permit 
their quoting the books of Enoch and 2 Esdras as genuine and 
inspired works, what shall we say of St. Jude^s quotations from 
the former of these books as from a genuine " prophecy" ? The 
writers of the New Testament quote the Septuagint habitually ; 
and it is really no unfair question to ask for proof that they 
recognised the differences between it and the Hebrew text. It 
is an unwarrantable assumption to take for granted that the 
inhabitants of Palestine were in general familiar with the He- 
brew Scriptures. To the great mass of the Jews of Palestine in 
the time of our Lord the Hebrew Scriptures were practically 
inaccessible. But a knowledge of the Greek language was as 
common as that of Hebrew was rare ; and the Septuagint ver- 
sion was current wherever the Greek language was spoken, 
that is in all the great towns of Palestine. It may have been 
held as an abomination by those zealots who execrated Greek 
learning, arts, and philosophy, and even the use of the Greek 
tongue ; but the time of their ascendancy in the Jewish Church 
was not yet arrived. The New Testament writers do not merely 
quote the Septuagint as a convenient version : their arguments 
are built upon it even when it varies essentially from the He- 
brew. If their quotations occasionally approach nearer in sense 
to the Hebrew than our present text of the Septuagint, it is 
unsafe to infer, as is constantly done, that they themselves cor- 
rect the Septuagint by the Hebrew original. There were un- 
doubtedly various readings of the Septuagint in the days of the 
Apostles, as there were in the days of Origen. And it is not 
improbable that copies current in Palestine were frequently 
corrected from the Hebrew, just as copies of the old Latin ver- 
sion of the Scriptures are found to have been corrected from the 
Greek original. 

The case of Josephus is very remarkable. What Mr. West- 
cott says about him would lead one to conclude that he adhered 
rigidly to the Hebrew Scriptures. Nothing can be further from 
the truth. It has been proved by M. Eeuss that Josephus was to 
all appearance unacquainted with the text of more than one of 
the Old Testament writings. But we have only to turn to Lord 

634 Dr. Smitlis Dictionarij of the Bible. 

Arthur Hervey's article, "Book of Neliemiali/' for the assurance 
that *' Josephus does not follow the authority of the book of Nehe- 
miah/' '* As regards the appending the history in Neh. viii. to 
the times of Ezra, we know that he was guided by the authority 
of the apocryphal 1 Esdras, as he had been in the whole story of 
Zerubbabel and Darius/' " There are," says the same writer in 
a later article, *' two histories of Zerubbabel ; the one that is con- 
tained in the canonical Scriptures, the other that in the apo- 
cryphal books and Josephus." Is it not equally true, that the 
only book of Ezra known to him is the apocryphal Esdras? 
Let it be remembered that Josephus was no obscure Jew of 
the dispersion, but a Jew born in Jerusalem, of the blood of the 
Asmonaean princes, belonging to the first cf the twenty-four 
courses of the priestly office ; and that he was a Pharisee, and 
one of the most highly educated men of his nation : and we 
shall see that it is an evident mistake to attribute to his con- 
temporaries and fellow-countrymen in general such a loiow- 
ledge of the Hebrew Scriptures as is often supposed, or that 
strict adherence to them which in his day was probably con- 
fined to the extreme zealots of the synagogue. 

The ideas of these zealots became dominant in the syna- 
gogue after the fall of Jerusalem. Greek ideas, Greek learning, 
and the use of the Greek language for liturgical purposes, came 
to be considered almost as tokens of apostasy ; and the existence 
of the Septuagint, to which the Christians constantly appealed 
in controversy, was looked upon as a calamity. Those portions 
of the Talmud which represent the ideas of which we are speak- 
ing, say that " darkness came upon the world for three days 
when the Law was written in Greek." " It was a mournful day 
for Israel, like that on which the calf was made." It was, no 
doubt, at a time when ideas like these were dominant within 
the synagogue that the Hebrew canon was finally closed ; and 
it was not likely that men who could not tolerate the Pentateuch 
in the Septuagint should recognise as Holy Scripture books 
whose Hebrew original was lost, or which had never existed in 
Hebrew ; some of them, like the book of Wisdom, even bearing 
distinct marks of the hated *' Ionic science." This violent anti- 
Hellenistic reaction was not confined in its effects to the Jews of 
Palestine, but spread throughout the Jewish community. The 
authority of the Septuagint was now repudiated ; and it is sig- 
nificant of the times that in the second century three Greek 
versions at least of the Old Testament were executed in oppo- 
sition and contradiction to the Septuagint, and in close con- 
formity with the Hebrew text. Besides the renowned versions 
of Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus, no less than three 
others were discovered by Origen, all of them, it can hardly be 

Dr, Smitlis Dictiorianj of the Bible. 635 

doubted, works of Jewish translators. If it be true tliat Tbeo- 
dotion and Symmaclius were Ebionites, it is clear that the re- 
action was shared by those Christians who adhered to Judaism, 
as far as it was possible to do so without denj'ing the Messianic 
dignity of our Lord. But the feeling which seems to have pre- 
vailed throughout the Jewish world in the second century was 
utterly foreign to the writers of the New Testament and to the 
early Christian Church. The Church had no reason whatever 
for allowing herself to be guided by the decision of narrow- 
minded Jews, more bigoted than those who had crucified our 
Lord. She had long since been emancipated from the syna- 
gogue ; and in determining the canon of the Old Testament she 
had no other principle to follow than that by which she was 
guided in determining a canon of the New, that is, her own 
perception of the Word of God, which she recognised by virtue 
of the Spirit of God abiding within her. What Calvin teaches 
about the " interior witness" revealed to the individual believer 
is what the Church has ever held as true with reference to the 
body of believers. It is quite true, as Mr. Westcott says, that 
the Christian canon of Scripture grew by use, not by enquiry. 
"The canon of Scripture was fixed in ordinary practice, and 
doubts were resolved by custom and not by criticism." No 
amount of enquiry or criticism could have solved the question. 
If the problem had been made to depend on historical data, a 
canon of the New Testament would have been impossible. The 
historical data of which he speaks never existed. The learned 
Fathers of the Church who made enquiries about the Hebrew 
canon seem never to have thought it requisite to pursue their 
research beyond the question as to what books the Jews in their 
own day held as canonical. 

Mr. Westcott's selection of patristic evidence with reference 
to the Christian canon of the Old Testament is not intentionally 
unfair ; it is his method which leads him to attach undue im- 
portance to a certain class of passages in the Fathers, in com- 
parison with others. The " canon of Origen," for instance, as it 
is called, has no right whatever to be placed in a list of "Christian 
catalogues of the books of the Old Testament." It is not given 
by Origen as a Christian catalogue, but expressly as one fcaO' 
'E^paLov<;. All the deliberate judgments of Origen are opposed 
to it. Mr. Westcott's note, though not sufficiently explicit, 
may be considered as in some degree stating the evidence on 
the second side of the question. But he gives only one side of 
St. Jerome's evidence, and does not allow his readers to suspect 
that there is another of no less importance. For a perfectly 
impartial statement of the whole evidence, we refer them to 
M. Reuss's recent work on the Canon. What renders Mr. West- 

636 Dr. SmWs Dictionary of the Bible, 

cott's unfairness the more striking is, that he takes great pains 
to contrast with St. Augustine's acceptance of the Deutero- canon- 
ical books all the isolated passages which seem to tell against 

Professor Plumptre's article, " Apocrypha," becomes of very- 
little value as soon as the historical account of the use of the 
word " apocryphal" is finished. The supposed characteristics of 
the Apocr>^ha are given as if the writer were utterly unconscious 
that the very same qualities or defects had long since been pre- 
dicated of books belonging to the Hebrew canon. The absence 
of the j)rophetic spirit can hardly be said to be peculiar to 
Deutero- canonical books. And when the writer proceeds to 
speak of want of originality, " repetition of the language of 
older prophets," and the arbitrary combinations of dreams and 
symbols, it is impossible not to confront him with his own 
words on another occasion. In the article " Jeremiah" he says : 

** Criticisms on the ' style' of a prophet are indeed, for the most part, 
whether they take the form of praise or blame, wanting both in .rever- 
ence and discernment. We do not gain much by knowing that to one 
■writer he appears at once ' sermone quidem , . . quibusdam aliis pro- 
phetis rusticior' (Hieron. Prcef. in Jerem.), and yet ' majestate sensuum 
profundissimus' (Proem, in c. L.); . . . that bolder critics find in him a 
great want of originality (Knobel, Prophetismus)', * symbolical images of 
an inferior order, and symbolical actions unskilfully contrived' (Davidson, 
Introd. to 0. T. c. xix.)." 

Another supposed characteristic of the Apocrypha is the ten- 
dency to pass ofi" supposititious books under the cover of illus- 
trious names. *' The books of Esdras, the additions to Daniel, 
the letters of Baruch and Jeremiah, and the Wisdom of Solomon, 
are obviously of this character." That some of the Deutero-can- 
onical books are pseudonymous is certain enough ; but are there 
no pseudonymous books among the Hebrew Scriptures ? The 
Canticles and Ecclesiastes, which bear the name of Solomon, 
probably belong to the latest productions of Hebrew literature. 
Professor Plumptre, in speaking of the Salomonic authorship of 
Ecclesiastes, allows that inspired writers need not be supposed 
to have been debarred from forms of composition which were 
open to others. 

*'ln the literature of every other nation the form of personated 
authorship, where there is no animus decipiendi, has been recognised as 
a legitimate channel for the expression of opinions, or the quasi-dra- 
matic representations of character. Why should we venture on the 
assertion that if adopted by the writers of the Old Testament it would 
have made them guilty of a falsehood, and been inconsistent with their 
inspiration ?"' 

The historv of the sacred text itself is given in " Old Testa- 

Dr, Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, 637 

ment" and "New Testament," which are, on the whole, respectable 
articles ; the former by Dr. Thompson of New York, the latter 
by Mr. Westcott. The section, however, by Dr. Thompson on 
" Quotations from the Old Testament in the New Testament/' 
might have been suppressed without any loss to the reader. It 
is almost ludicrously superficial ; and much of it is certainly 
erroneous. The old view that the New Testament writers cor- 
rected the Septuagint version from the Hebrew when neces- 
sary is given as if unquestionable ; and we are told that " when 
the errors involved in the Septuagint version do not interfere 
with the purpose which the New Testament writer had in view, 
they are frequently allowed to remain in his quotation. '^ Yet 
it is granted that " the current of apostolic thought too is fre- 
quently dictated by words of the Septuagint which differ much 
from the Hebrew .... or even an absolute interpolation of the 
Septuagint is quoted^ Heb. i. 6 (Deut. xxxii. 43),^' expressly as 
the word of God, it might have been added. Hengstenberg's 
very insufficient explanation of the circumstance that in Matt. 
xxvii. 9 Jeremiah is named as the author of a prophecy of 
Zechariah, is given with applause. In the first and most im- 
portant section of the article we do not see that, in speaking of 
the Talmud, the writer gives an accurate idea of the value to be 
attached to the quotations found in it from the Old Testament ; 
and he is silent as to the difference in this regard between its 
printed copies and the manuscripts of it. 

" Samaritan Pentateuch^' is one of the uniformly excellent 
articles of Mr. Emmanuel Deutsch, who has also written that on 
the Samaritan version, and given some account of the Samaritan 
literature. His articles on the Targums, in spite of the belief 
expressed in the tradition of Ezra's connection with " that most 
important religious and political body called the Great Syna- 
gogue, or Men of the Great Assembly/' are among the most 
valuable in the Dictionary. 

When speaking, a few pages back, about the change of feel- 
ing among the Jews towards the Septuagint, we should have been 
glad to notice Dr. Selwyn's account of the matter ; but there is 
none whatever in his article '* Septuagint," one of the most 
superficial in the whole work. The dominant feeling in the 
writer's mind appears to be the principle, which he prints in 
italics, "never to build any argument on words or phrases of the 
Septuagint without comparing them with the Hebrew" The 
danger here deprecated is one to which Englishmen of the 
nineteenth century are but little exposed. The author of the 
Epistle to the Hebrews, on the contrary, never fails to violate 
the principle of Dr. Selwyn ; a further index to whose mind 
when writing this article may be found in the suggestion to 

638 Dr. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. 

provide a new Greek version, "accurate and faithful to the 
Hebrew original," — that is, we suppose, the Masoretic re- 
cension — " for the use of the Greek Church, and of students 
reading the Scriptures in that language for the purposes of 
devotion and mental improvement." 

" Yulgate," by Mr. Westcott, is an article ofa very different 
order of merit, and, from the writer's point of view, could hardly 
have been surpassed. It is full of information, and is in general 
perfectly fair. He calls attention to the fact insisted upon by 
Bellarmine and other great theologians, but strangely overlooked 
in later controversies, that the decree of the Council of Trent 
does not make any reference to the original text of the Bible, 
but merely gives the preference to the Yulgate over other Latin 
versions. In his account, however, of the Sixtine and Clemen- 
tine editions of the Yulgate, Bellarmine's conduct is spoken of 
with the most unjustifiable harshness. That great writer states, 
in his preface to the Clementine edition, that Sixtus Y., having 
perceived the number of clerical errors which had crept into the 
Bible prepared b)^ him, decreed that the whole impression should 
be recalled. " Of this," says Mr. Westcott, " there is not the 
faintest shadow of proof." But surely the onus j^rohandi here 
lies not upon Bellarmine, but upon those who deny his assertion. 
That the numerous clerical errors of the Sixtine text were 
recognised by the Pontiff himself is evident from the copies 
which got into circulation ; they abound with corrections made 
by the pen, or printed on slips of paper pasted over the errata. 
But the words of Bellarmine's preface are interpreted by other 
expressions of his found in his autobiography. Mr. Westcott 
writes : 

" On tlie accession of Gregory XIY. some went so far as to propose 
that the edition of Sixtus should be absolutely prohibited ; but Bel- 
larmine suggested a middle course. He proposed that the erroneous 
alterations of the text which had been made in it (qvce male mutata 
erant) should be corrected with all possible speed, and tlie Bible re- 
printed under the name of Sixtus, with a prefatory note, to the effect 
that errors {aliqua errata) had crept into the former edition by the 
carelessness of the printers. This pious fraud, or rather daring false- 
hood — for it can be called by no other name — found favour with those 
in power." 

When people talk so boldly about "daring falsehoods" they 
should be very careful about the accuracy of their own state- 
ments. Now the statement in Mr. Westcott's text is, as it 
stands, calumnious. It implies that the word errata is con- 
fined to printers' errors, whereas it was used by Bellarmine 
and his contemporaries-^ in a sense including " quoo male rau- 

2 Sixtus Senensis, for instance, in the last page of his Bibliothcca Sancta, 

Dr. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, 639 

tata erant;" and Mr. Westcott translates " typographorum 
\"EL ALiORUM incuria" ^^by the carelessness of the printers," 
thus leaving out words implying that others besides printers 
were to blame. There can be no doubt that Bellarmine wished 
to save the Pope's honour ; that he proposed to do this by 
throwing the whole blame on the printers is untrue ; and his 
preface to the Clementine edition, though speaking of the errors 
of the press in the Sixtine, does not say that the new edition 
was a mere corrected reproduction of its predecessor. The 
revision of the text is simply avowed, and expressly said to 
have been finished in the beginning of the pontificate of Cle- 
ment YIII. 

Other " Ancient Yersions" are described by Dr. Tregelles. 
His articles are, in general, summaries of what he has elsewhere 
written on the same subjects. His observations, however, on 
the proposal by the late Canon Eogers for a new edition of the 
Peschito, and those on a personal controversy between himself 
and Mr. Scrivener, strike us as being singularly out of place in 
Dr. Smith's Dictionary. 

The insufficiency of the information given in Mr. Perowne's 
articles on " Genesis," " Exodus," " Deuteronomy," and " Pen- 
tateuch" is particularly remarkable at a moment when the 
curiosity of the public has been awakened by the controversy 
occasioned by the publication of Dr. Colenso's work. Mr. 
Perowne's conclusions are in favour of what is called the 
authenticity of the Pentateuch ; but they are not supported by 
sufficiently strong arguments. And indeed it may be doubted 
whether his admissions on the other side of the question are 
not such as to outweigh the evidence on which he chiefly relies. 
He produces certain references of time and place " which prove 
clearly that the work, in its jjresent form, is later than the 
time of Moses." The genealogical table of Esau^s family (Gen. 
xxxvi.), for instance, contains the remark, "And these are the 
kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned 
any king over the children of Israel." On this Mr. Perowne 
says : " No unprejudiced person can read the words . . . with- 
out feeling that when they were written kings had already be- 
gun to reign over Israel. It is a simple historical fact, that 
for centuries after the death of Moses no attempt was made to 
establish a monarchy amongst the Jews." He admits, moreover, 
that the genealogical table in which the words occur could not 
have been an interpolation ; " it is a most essential part of the 

includes under the errata of the Vulgate " soloecismos, barbarisraos, hyperbata, 
et raulta parum accommodate versa, et minus Latine expressa, obscure et am- 
bigue interpretata, itemque nonnulla superaddita, aliaque omissa, quoedam 
transposita, immutata, ac vitio scriptorum depravata." 

640 Dr. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, 

structure" of the book of Genesis. But ** this particular verse" 
may be the interpolation of a later editor. There is in fact, he 
thinks, abundant evidence to show that, though the main bulk 
of the Pentateuch is Mosaic, certain detached portions of it are 
of later growth. " It may have undergone many later revisions 
and corrections, the last of these being certainly as late as the 
time of Ezra." " The whole work did not finally assume its 
present shape till its revision was undertaken by Ezra, after 
the return from the Babylonish captivity.'^ We must once 
more repeat, that there is no historical evidence that Ezra ever 
revised the Pentateuch. All the supposed interpolations, cor- 
rections, or glosses, that may be discovered in it, are the work 
of men with reference to whom we know nothing. How large 
a portion of the entire Pentateuch did they write ? What proof 
is there that the " main bulk" of it is really Mosaic ? That it 
was already in existence eight hundred years before Christ is 
what no one doubts. Is there earlier evidence in its favour ? 
The evidence '* lying outside of the Pentateuch itself" is di- 
vided by ^Ir. Perowne into three kinds : " first, direct mention 
of the work as already existing in the later books of the Bible ; 
secondly, the existence of a book substantially the same as the 
present Pentateuch amongst the Samaritans ; and lastly, allu- 
sion less direct, such as historical references, quotations, and 
the like, which presuppose its existence." The second kind 
of evidence, derived from the Samaritan Pentateuch, is given 
up by Mr. Perowne. The Samaritan Pentateuch contains 
*' those passages which are manifestly interpolations and cor- 
rections as late as the time of Ezra." " And we incline to the 
view of Prideaux, . . . that the Samaritan Pentateuch was in 
fact a transcript of Ezra^s revised copy." The third kind of 
evidence, drawn from allusions, historical references, quota- 
tions, and the like, begins with the prophets Joel, Amos, and 
Hosea ; that is, not earlier than B.C. 800. The whole ancient 
external evidence of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch 
is therefore reduced to the first kind mentioned by Mr. Perowne. 
In collecting this, he first refers to several passages of the book 
of Joshua in which Moses is mentioned as the author of the book 
of the law ; but he admits *' that they cannot be cited as prov- 
ing that the Pentateuch in its present form and all its parts is 
Mosaic.'' He might have added, that they rather add a diffi- 
culty to all the rest. In one of the passages to which he refers it 
is said that Joshua made a covenant with the people on the day 
in which he took leave of the Israelites, " and set them a statute 
and an ordinance in Shechem. And Joshua wrote these words 
in the book of the law of God." Now, it is quite certain that 
the book of the law of God here referred to does not mean our 

Dr. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, 641 

present Pentateuch. " The book of Judges does not speak of 
the book of the law/^ "It is a little remarkable, however, 
that no direct mention of it occurs in the books of Samuel. 
Considering the express provision made for a monarchy in 
Deuteronomy, we should have expected that on the first ap- 
pointment of a king some reference would have been made to 
the requirements of the law. A prophet like Samuel, we might 
have thought, could not fail to direct the attention of the newly 
made king to the book in accordance with which he was to go- 
vern. But if he did this, the history does not tell us so ; though, 
there are, it is true, allusions which can only be interpreted on 
the supposition that the law was known.^' Why are these not 
specified ? " .The first mention of the law of Moses after the 
establishment of the monarchy is in David's charge to his son 
Solomon on his deathbed (1 Kings ii. 3)." " The words, *as it 
is written in this law of Moses,' show that some portLon, at any 
rate, of our present Pentateuch is referred to, and that the law 
was received as the law of Moses !' It is impossible to prove 
that any portion of the Pentateuch is referred to in the passage 
quoted ; but even were the reverse of this true, we have come 
down to writings which were not composed till the Babylonian 

The chief argument, however, on which Mr. Perowne relies 
is the express testimony of the book of Deuteronomy,* which 
claims to be from the hand of Moses himself. He is mistaken, 
we think, in saying that " all allow that the book of the cove- 
nant in Exodus, perhaps a great part of Leviticus, and some 
part of Numbers, were written by Israel's greatest leader and 
prophet." It is a strange misapprehension of the controversy 
to imagine that the genuineness of Deuteronomy is questioned 
because it is in style and purpose so utterly uulike the genuine 
wiHtings of Moses. The evidence to which Mr. Perowne appeals 
in behalf of the antiquity of the book consists, first, in the allu- 
sions to Egypt ; secondly, in the phraseology of the book and 
the archaisms found in it, which " stamp it as of the same age 
with the rest of the Pentateuch" (but he has not proved the 
antiquity of the rest of the Pentateuch) ; thirdly, in the fond- 
ness for the use of figures, some of which are peculiar to it, to 
the " book of the Covenant,^^ and to Psalm xc, which is said to 

^ Mr. Perowne grants that in the reign of Josiah the existence of Deutero- 
nomy as a canonical book " seems to have been almost forgotten." We could 
hardly have thought it possible to find the following note to his explanation on 
the discovery of the book of the law: "That even in monasteries the Bible 
■was a neglected and almost unknown book, is clear from the story of Luther's 
conversion." If Mr. Perowne is not aware that he is here referring to a false- 
hood long since exploded, let him read Maitland's Dark Ages, (p. 468 et seq.), 
and blush at his own ignorance. 

64-2 Dr, Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, 

be Mosaic ; and fourthly, in the acquaintance of the prophets 
\vith it. If all this evidence be put together and allowed to 
pass unquestioned, which is more than any of Mr. Perowne's 
opponents can be expected to consent to, it will not prove a 
higher antiquity than the time of Samuel. He is therefore 
obliged to have recourse to rhetoric, and concludes with the 
passage which we have already quoted : *' But in truth the 
book speaks for itself. No imitator could have written" — and 
so forth. 

The coexistence of the Elohistic and Jehovistic portions in 
the Pentateuch is not in itself an argument against the Mosaic 
authorship of the Pentateuch ; for Moses, as the Jehovistic com- 
piler and editor, might have incorporated Elohistic documents 
with his work. The argument, however, becomes a powerful 
one when it is found that the Elohistic and Jehovistic docu- 
ments continue to run through the book of Joshua ; but the 
importance of this fact is ignored both by Mr. Perowne and by 
Mr. Bullock, the writer of the short and meagre article " Book 
of Joshua." 

Many of the critical remarks of Mr. Twistleton on the 
" Books of SamueP' are just and important ; but they rather 
represent part of the scaffolding of an edifice, than the edifice 
itself which ought to have been constructed. 

Lord Arthur Hervey considers the Jewish tradition which 
ascribes the first and second books of Kings to Jeremiah as 
" borne out by the strongest internal evidence, in addition to 
that of the language." These are, at all events, he believes, 
the work of " a trustworthy historian, who cites contemporary 
documents as his authority (let alone the peculiar character of 
the Bible histories as * given by inspiration of God')." " It must, 
however, be admitted that the chronological details expressly 
given in the books of Kings form a remarkable contrast with 
their striking historical accuracy." The very first date of a 
decidedly chronological character which is given is manifestly 
erroneous. Numerous other dates are also certainly wrong. 
These chronological difficulties are of two kinds. One is the 
mere want of the data necessary for chronological exactness ; 
'* but the other kind of difficulty is of a totally different cha- 
racter, and embraces dates which are vei^y exact in their mode 
of expression, but are erroneous and contradictory." Such 
difficulties Lord Arthur Hervey believes to be owing to the 
interpolations of a professed chronologist, whose object was 
to reduce Scripture history to an exact system of chronology. 
The omission of some chronological passages in the Septuagint 
would be a strong argument in favour of this hypothesis, were 
it not that the Hebrew and Greek texts disagree in many im- 

Dr. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. 643 

portant passages, wMcli our author enumerates and comments 
upon in a spirit very unfavourable to the Septuagint. *' These 
variations/^ he says, " illustrate a characteristic tendency of the 
Jewish mind to make interesting portions of the Scriptures the 
groundwork of separate religious tales, which they altered or 
added to according to their fancy, without any regard to his- 
tory or chronology/'' 

The articles on the books of Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, 
and Esther, are by the same writer, whose contributions to the 
history of the Old Testament literature appear to improve pro- 
gressively in alphabetical order. 

When biblical critics assert the integrity of a book of Scrip- 
ture, they mean that it is complete, and that all its parts are 
written by one and the same writer, or at least put together by 
him. Of all the prophetical books, that of Zechariah is, we 
believe, the first that was questioned in this respect. But the 
earliest doubts as to its integrity were not suggested by the 
desire to impugn its divine authority, or to attack the inspira- 
tion of Scripture. They were suggested by a motive of an 
exactly opposite kind, namely, the wish to defend the accuracy 
of a text in the New Testament. A remarkable passage from 
the eleventh chapter of Zechariah is described in St. Matthew's 
gospel " as spoken by the prophet Jeremias." There must, to 
all appearance, be a mistake somewhere ; either the author of 
the gospel is mistaken in ascribing the passage to Jeremiah, or 
the passage and the whole context to which it belongs are 
wrongly placed among the prophecies of Zechariah. St. Jerome, 
St. Augustine, and most commentators after them, adopted the 
first alternative. Mode first proposed the hypothesis, "that 
the evangelist would inform us that those latter chapters, 
ascribed to Zachary (namely, 9th, 10th, 11th, &c.), are indeed 
the prophecies of Jeremy ; and that the Jews had not rightly 
attributed them." "There is no Scripture saith they are Zach- 
ary's ; but there is Scripture saith they are Jeremy's, — as this 
of the evangelist. As for these being joined to the prophecies 
of Zachary, that proves no more that they are his than the 
like joining of Agar's proverbs to Solomon's proves that they 
are therefore Solomon's, or that all the psalms are David's 
because joined in one volume with David's psalms." He en- 
deavoured to show that the historical standpoint of the author 
of these chapters was utterly diiferent from, and inappropriate 
to, that of Zechariah.'^ He was followed b}^ Hammond, Bishop 
Kidder, and Newcome, Protestant archbishop of Armagh. The 
last-named writer was chiefly led by the internal evidence of 
a difierence of style and historical standpoint to maintain that 

■' Mede's Works, Epist. xxxi. p. 786. 

64A; Br, Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. 

the six last chapters could not have been written by Zechariah, 
the son of Iddo. " They seem/^ he says, " to suit Hosea's age 
and manner. But, whoever wrote them, their divine authority 
is established by the two quotations from them in the New 

The integrity of the book of Zechariah is one of those ques- 
tions which would naturally call forth all the learning and 
ingenuity of the great German critics. The majority of them 
are decidedly unfavourable to it. But the difficulties of the 
subject are very great ; and De Wette, who denied the integrity 
in the three first editions of his Introduction, finished by ad- 
mitting the insufficiency of the arguments on that side of the 
question.7 The arguments on both sides are very fairly given 
by Mr. Perowne ; and we really cannot blame him for hesi- 
tating to decide between them. "Indeed, it is not easy to 
say," he concludes, " which way the weight of evidence pre- 

A far more important question is that concerning the in- 
tegrity of the book of Isaiah. The article " Isaiah" is one of 
considerable extent, and, from its subject, ought to have been 
one of the most important in the Dictionary. It has, however, 
been written by a thoroughly incompetent person, who, instead 
of mastering the difficulties of his subject, has produced a feeble 
apology of the old view of the literary question. It is well 
known that the overwhelming majority of eminent scholars are 
of opinion that the second part of the prophecies (the last 
twenty-seven chapters), attributed to Isaiah, are the work, not 
of Isaiah, but of a later prophet. The list of these scholars is 
admitted by Mr. Huxtable to be, in point of numbers, of cri- 
tical ability, and of profound Hebrew scholarship, sufficiently 
imposing. "Nevertheless," he says, "when we come to en- 
quire into their grounds of objection, we soon cease to attach 
much value to this formidable array of authorities." When 
we, on the other hand, come to enquire into his mode of look- 
ing at the matter, we see that, instead of asking himself what 
truth may be beneath the mass of evidence which so many 
learned men have collected, independently of the method ac- 
cording to which each of them ma)'' have chosen to state it, he 
has simply taken up a controversial position, and stated their 
evidence in a form which, although unobjectionable from a 

" Newcome, Minor Prophets^ p. 195. 

' Mr. Perowne is hardly justified in saying that "when De Wette, after 
having adopted the theory of different authors, felt himself obliged to abandon 
it ... . and to vindicate the integrity of the book, the ground for a post-exile 
date must be very strong." The ground for a post-exile date ks- very strong ; 
but De Wette did not exactly vindicate the integrity of the book. He merely 
allowed its possibility. 

Br, Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. 6if5 

" Rationalist" point of view, and therefore adopted by some 
of the critics in question, cannot but appear extremely weak 
to English, and particularly to orthodox Protestant, minds. 
This is not unfair in one controversialist arguing against 
another ; but a critic is bound to rise above the ai^giimentum ad 
hominem. His position is that, not of an advocate, but of a 
judge. Mr. Huxtable altogether misapprehends the literary 
question at issue. One of his arguments is drawn from the 
predictions contained in the second book as to the character, 
sufferings, death, and glorification of Jesus Christ. "A be- 
liever in Christ,'' he says, " cannot fail to regard those predic- 
tions as affixing to this second part the broad seal of divine in- 
spiration, tuhereby the chief ground of objection against its having 
been written by Isaiah is at once annihilated." The question is 
utterly independent of that of inspiration. The high Anglican 
authorities who doubted or denied the integrity of the book 
of Zechariah never dreamed of questioning the inspiration of 
the second prophet, whose writings they believed to have been 
added to those of Zechariah. iTsTo one denies that the author of 
the second part of the book attributed to Isaiah is as true and 
inspired a prophet as any whose names we know. And it 
would be well if, in examining a question like that of the in- 
tegrity of the book of Isaiah, orthodox critics could forget for 
the time that the evidence on the subject was first put toge- 
ther by men less orthodox than themselves. It can hardly be 
doubted that, if philological and critical science had been cul- 
tivated in Catholic Italy and Spain with as much activity and 
success as in Protestant Germany, Italian and Spanish critics 
would, without sacrificing a particle of their orthodoxy, have 
arrived at the same conclusions on the literary character of the 
book of Isaiah as Eichhorn, De Wette, Gesenius, and Ewald. 

Mr. Huxtable has stated the evidence as seen from one point 
of view ; we will venture to look at it from another. 

As long as the book of Isaiah was studied in a translation, 
it matters not whether Greek, Latin, German, or English, it 
was impossible that the reader should notice the very remark- 
able fact, that after the thirty-ninth chapter the language and 
style are completely changed. There may be nothing very ex- 
traordinary in the sudden transition from Hebrew to Chaldee 
in the books of Ezra and Daniel. The change of language in 
the book of Isaiah is of a totally different character. It is hardly 
perceptible to the superficial reader ; and yet it tells a tale not 
less historically certain than that which enables us to account 
for the appearance of two different Semitic dialects in the same 
book. Although written in classical Hebrew, the second part of 
the book of Isaiah is full of linguistic peculiarities not found in 

646 Dr. SmitJi's Dictionary of the Bible. 

the first part, and of others betraying an age of the language 
later than that of Isaiah. 

"To [these] peculiarities/' says Knobel, "belong ntt|", to 
sprout, i.e. to arise; Snp^ to j^reac/i; nan n29, to break out 
into exultation; Q^tt?, n^tt^n, nb^, nbb:?nS":T; V:B'0i:^, the religion 
of Jehovah; p"!"^,, prosperity, salvation; Tl\yi'2jt/ie same; Ci^n, 
the inhabitants of the earth; T^?, ^-r^?* ^^ nothing ; "nbsi'bs, 
all flesh ; *^5^t "^^'^ wasting and destruction; the use of the ad- 
jective and participle as a substantive neuter^ mostly in the 
plural feminine, ex. gr. ni^Db^f:, ancient things ; rii^trS";, 
former things ; rilS'^, great things ; ri1"i^5, secret things ; 
n'ltLnn, new things; nvins^ things to come; rilW2, the same. 
These expressions appear, for the most part, in our author, and 
characterise him as a very peculiar writer. Most important are 
the linguistic elements, betraying a later time. The writer uses 
a number of expressions which are found either in his composi- 
tion only, or in the later books ; and Avhich must be explained 
chiefly by the Aramaean, ex. gr. bw|, to be unclean; tt't?2, to 
grope ; nSD, to span ; 7133, to name ; Wn^, to strike ; nHD, to 
spread out ; "T^O^ ^^ pray to ; pj?3, to kindle ; QK73, to breathe ; 
n:^3, to cry) n]^, the same ; n3j:j, to bow, stretch ; l?'n, repent- 
ance ; "1^"!?,' idol; n7|i:g, veil; ti??"!, dirt; nnit!?, apostate; "I'^Ppn, 
without ; U^y^, to be averse ; the formulas, luhat dost thou ; peo- 
ples and tongues : C^??P, princes, is a Persian word. In like 
manner, our author employs a number of words in significations 
and relations borrowed in part from Aramaean, appearing only 
in later authors, so far as they are not peculiar to him, and all 
betraying a great advance in the language, thus showing a later 
period; as, "^^wn, to kindle" [and many others]. "The same 
holds good of word-forms, ex. gr. the Aramaeisms, "'ribsi;is and 
"^^nn . None but the author has a Pihel of "^SS, a Hiphil de- 
nominative of n5, a Hithpael of n^^, r\r\B, and T^vy^, as well as 
the nominal forms nhbDi;? in the plural, T\b\V for nbn:, nn^.37^^, 
nnn^.73, TMT^y^j and nt^S^n. Other words he has in common 
with the later writers, ex. gr. the Pahal of ^"^17 and the Pilel of 
mb, as also \nis for ^ns, TTP2 for r[y^r^, ^"Iji^, and the plurals 
nii^nn, n\nitt, Q^pbiy. Many words are to be explained by 
the Arabic, which may have had an influence on the Hebrew of 
the exiles in the intercourse of the Arabians with the Babylo- 
nians; for example, l^^b?, unfruitful [and ten others].'' 

To these peculiarities of language we must add very remark- 
able peculiarities of style, for which we refer to the work from 
which the foregoing extract is taken, or to any good work of 
the same kind. 

If we now compare the prophecies contained in the second 

Dr, SmitKs Dictionary of the Bible, 647 

part with those contained in tlie first, the difference of historical 
standpoint will be found to be very great. The writer of the 
first part in one place predicts the exile ; but his prophecies are 
clearly written in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, 
and Manasseh. The writer of the second part does not predict 
the exile; he every where speaks as if he were living in it. 
Those to whom he speaks, to whom he declares himself to be 
sent, are in exile and oppressed. The destruction of the temple 
and of Jerusalem itself are spoken of not as future, but as past, 
events. It is predicted not that the cities of Judah shall be 
destroyed, but that they shall be rebuilt. There is not a single 
phrase in these twenty-seven chapters indicating that the writer 
lived before the time of Cyrus, whose name is repeatedly men- 
tioned in them. And it has been truly remarked that were this 
portion of the book of Isaiah separate from the other, and with- 
out a name, no one would think of ascribing to it another date 
than that suggested by the name of Cyrus and the rebuilding 
of the temple,^ more than a hundred and fifty years after the 
time of Isaiah. 

The philological evidence, therefore, for the later date of the 
second part is in perfect harmony with the evidence derived 
from the contents of this part. The language betrays a writer 
of an age subsequent to that of Isaiah, and influences which are 
accounted for by the very historical data furnished by the mat- 
ter of the prophecies. 

There is no ancient external evidence whatever for the unity 
of the book of Isaiah. There are only dogmatic reasons of a 
very insufiicient kind. The '^inspired testimony of the New 
Testament," to which Mr. Huxtable appeals, does not delibe- 
rately pronounce upon the question. In St. Luke's gospel^ 
we are told that there was delivered to our Lord the "book 
of the prophet Esaias.'' And it was from this book that 
our Lord read the words, '*The Spirit of the Lord is upon 
me," &c. But no one questions the fact, that in our Lord's days 
the " book of the prophet Esaias" contained the passage quoted 
in St. Luke's gospel. Other passages of the New Testament, in 
which " Esaias" is quoted as the source of predictions found in 
the second part of the book ascribed to him, are to be explained 
in the same way as the passage in St. Matthew ascribing to 
Jeremiah a prophecy which is most probably not by him, or as 
the passage of St. Jude which quotes the book of Enoch as a 
genuine prophecy. 

^ It is to be observed that Zechariah (viii. 7) apparently quotes Isaiah 
xliii. 5, as spoken by the mouth of one of the prophets who were " in the day 
that the foundation of the house of the Lord of Hosts was laid, that the temple 
might be built." 

5 iv. 17. 

648 Dr, SmitKs Dictionary of the Bible, 

It is almost incredible that Mr. Huxtable sbould appeal to 
" the unity of design and construction which," as he endeavours 
to show, "connects these last twenty-seven chapters with the 
preceding parts of the book,^^ and to "the oneness of diction 
which pervades the book." This latter kind of internal evidence 
is surely only visible in a translation. . " The peculiar elevation 
and grandeur of style" is certainly not less remarkable in the 
second than in the first part ; but it is in itself no evidence at 
all. " The absence of any other name than Isaiah's claiming 
the authorship" is a very poor reason for assigning it to Isaiah. 
What would Mr. Huxtable say of such a reason given for the 
genuineness of the Clementines, or of the writings attributed to 
St. Dionysius the Areopagite ? 

Another argument is drawn from "the claims which the 
writer makes to the/o?^ekiiowledge of the deliverance by Gyrus ; 
which claims, on the opposing view, must be regarded as a 
fraudulent personation of an earlier writer." A certain number 
of references are given in another part of Mr. Huxtable 's article 
as bearing on these supposed claims ; and a note assures us that 
"it is difficult to acquit the passages above cited of impudent, 
and indeed suicidal, mendacity, if they were not written before 
Cyrus appeared on the political scene." We have read with 
great attention all the passages referred to ; and if the book 
were not a very short one, we might be afraid that we had been 
misled by clerical errors ; but neither in these passages, nor in 
any others in the second part of Isaiah, can we discern a trace of 
the claims supposed to be made by the prophet to a/oreknow- 
ledge of the deliverance by Cyrus, except such foreknowledge 
as belongs to a contemporary. In most of the passages referred 
to by Mr. Huxtable the foreknowledge of God is spoken of ; in 
no case that of Isaiah, or of a prophet living a century and a 
half before the appearance of Cyrus, or even twenty years before 
that time. 

It is hardly necessary to say that on other difficulties and 
interesting questions connected with the book of Isaiah — such, 
for instance, as that of the " Servant of the Lord" — not a single 
ray of light is shed by Mr. Huxtable's article. 

On the prophet Jeremiah, Professor Plumptre's article con- 
tains a great deal that every student can find for himself in his 
own Bible ; but the important subject of the text of the book 
is dismissed with half a page. The discrepancies between the 
Hebrew text and that of the Septuagint are extremely remark- 
able and instructive. Professor Plumptre merely gives a short 
table indicating the extent of the divergency ; and " for fuller 
details, tending to a conclusion unfavourable to the trustworthi- 
ness of the Greek translation," he refers to Keil s EMeitung, 


Z)r. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, 649 

" and the authors there referred to.^^ We are next presented 
with a table of references to *' supposed interpolations," con- 
cluding with a list of the chief impugners and defenders of the 
authenticity of the passages in question. This is certainly a 
very summary way of disposing of difficulties. 

The difficulties of the book of Daniel begin with the very 
first verse of the first chapter, which states that in the third 
year of Jehoiakim king of Judah, jS^ebuchadnezzar king of 
Babylon came and besieged Jerusalem ; whereas Jeremiah iden- 
tifies the first year of Nebuchadnezzar with the fourth of Je- 
hoiakim, in which year he himself predicted the coming of the 
Babylonish king and the captivity of Judah. The true expla- 
nation of this difficulty, according to Mr. Westcott, is suggested 
by the text of Daniel. " The second year of Nebuchadnezzar's 
reign (ii. 1) falls after the completion of the three years' train- 
ing of Daniel, which commenced with his captivity (i. 1, 5) ; 
and this is a clear indication that the expedition mentioned in 
i. 1 was undertaken in the last year of the reign of Nabupa- 
lassar, while as yet Nebuchadnezzar was not properly king." 
This explanation of one difficulty by the discovery of a second, 
which leads to giving up the historical accuracy of the passage 
explained, and that in a way which evidently contradicts the 
intention of one's author, is far from satisfactory. "But some 
further difficulties remain," continues Mr. Westcott, " which 
appear, however, to have been satisfactorily removed by Nie- 
buhr (Gesch. Assiirs, 86 &.)." One of these satisfactory 
explanations seems to be that when Jeremiah ^^ predicted 
the coming of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had already 

We certainly did not expect to find in Mr. Westcott^s 
articles a solution of the difficulties of the book of Daniel ; and 
we have therefore not been disappointed. The doubts as to the 
genuineness of the book are disposed of in not quite a column 
of general views as to the providential government of the world, 
together with about the same amount of reply to objections in 
detail. The whole tone of this criticism is so conservative as 
logically to be available for the defence of other books with 
which that of Daniel has much in common. But as these books 
are not in the Hebrew canon, we must expect quite a different 
treatment for them. 

The great fabulist La Fontaine one day accidentally made 
acquaintance with the book of Baruch, and was so struck with 
its beauty that he went about asking all his friends, "Connaissez- 
vous Baruch ?" and recommending them to read it. We fear 
that Baruch is little known to the readers of Dr. Smith's Dic- 

'° Chap. XXV. 

650 Dr. Smithes Dictionary of the Bible, 

tionary, and that they will pass over, without any misgivings, 
an important misstatement of Mr. Westcott's as to the imita- 
tion of Daniel by the author of the book. There are certainly 
very close and unmistakeable coincidences between the books 
of Daniel and Baruch ; but in our opinion, which is that also of 
great critics^ ^ who are not remarkable for prejudices in favour of 
the deutero-canonical books, it is the author of Daniel who 
has imitated the book of Earuch. If this be the true state of 
the case, Mr. Westcott has the alternative of giving the book 
of Baruch a date anterior to that of the prophet Daniel, or of 
bringing down the date of the book of Daniel to a time pos- 
terior to that to which he assigns the book of Baruch. 

Other deutero-canonical books (Ecclesiasticus, Wisdom of 
Solomon, Maccabees, and Tobit) are not treated by Mr. West- 
cott as they would have been were they recognised by his 
Church as canonical; but he certainly deserves the praise of 
having displayed in regard to them an amount of fairness and 
good sense which has been lamentably rare among English Pro- 
testant writers. A better and more rational feeling than had 
hitherto prevailed towards the "Apocryphal" books was first 
inaugurated by Dr. Davidson, whose chapter on this subject in 
the last edition of Home's Introduction offers a very striking 
contrast to the corresponding chapter in the earlier editions. 

A fair amount of Greek scholarship being nearly as com- 
mon among the more highly educated Anglican clergy as a 
knowledge of Hebrew is rare, it might have been expected that 
the excellence of articles on the books of the New Testament 
would compensate for the poverty of those on the Old. But 
this is far from being the case ; the jSIew Testament articles are 
in general inferior to the Old Testament ones, the difficulties of 
the latter having apparently enforced a greater amount of care- 
ful study both of the original documents and of tlie erudite 
German works to which the writers of the Dictionary are so 
much indebted. 

The article " Gospels,'^ by the Archbishop of York, might, 
if we except a few allusions and bibliographical references to 
modern books, have been written more than thirty years ago. 
He tells us that " Barnabas, Clemens Romanus, and Polycarp, 
quote passages from [the gospels], but not with verbal exact- 
ness. The testimony of Justin Martyr (born about a.d. 99, 

" "Las der Verfasser des B. Daniel gewiss schon dies Buch und zwar he- 
braisch, auch wohl in derselben Verbindung mit dem B. Jercmja: denn die 
Worter des Gebetes Dan, ix. 4 19 geben sich ihrem Hauptinhalte iiach nur als 
cine neue Ausarbeitung nach Bar. i. 15 — ii. 17, auch meist als Verkiirzung dar- 
aus ; und wahrend dies Gebet im B. Daniel mehr nur eine Nebensache ist um 
auf etwas -wichtigeres hiniiberzuleiten, ist es im B. Barukh ebon die Hauptsache 
fursich.'* Ewald, Gesch, d, V. Israel, B. iv. p. 232. 

Dr, Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. 651 

martyred a.d. 165) Is mucli fuller ; many of his quotations are 
found verbatim in the gospels of St. Matthew, St. Luke, and 
St. John, and possibly of St. Mark also, whose words it is more 
difficult to separate.^' After all that has been written on the 
testimony of Justin, and, indeed, of the ancients generally, one 
could hardly have been prepared for such smooth sailing. The 
assertion, too, that from the first " a sharp line of distinction 
was drawn between [the four gospels] and the so-called apo- 
cryphal gospels, of which the number was \qtj great," may be 
true ; but when Dr. Thompson appeals to historical evidence in 
support of it, he should tell us in what this evidence consists. 
He ought to remember that it is generally admitted that Ig- 
natius, Justin, and the author of the second epistle attributed 
to Clement of Eome, unhesitatingly quote apocryphal gospels, 
and that no testimony equally clear, and of equal antiquity, 
has yet been produced for the gospel of St. John. 

A short account of the difi'erent explanations first given of 
the close resemblances to be found in the synoptical gospels, 
and of the theory of an original gospel, is closed by a protest 
against this theory as inconsistent with inspiration and with 
" the wholesome confidence with which we now rely on the 
gospels as pure, true, and genuine histories of the life of Jesus, 
composed by four independent witnesses inspired for that 
work." Gieseler's hypothesis, that the oral teaching of the 
apostles was the real source of the agreement between the 
three gospels, meets with more favour; and Dr. Thompson 
proceeds to enquire how it bears upon our belief in the inspira- 
tion of the gospels — a momentous question, which admits, he 
believes, of a satisfactory reply. Divine guidance and the 
Spirit of Truth were promised to the apostles by our Lord ; and 
that this promise was fully realised to them, the history of the 
Acts sufficiently shows. " So that as to St. Matthew and St. 
John, we may say that their gospels are inspired because the 
writers of them were inspired according to their Master's 
promise," supernatural guidance being as necessary in writing 
a gospel as when standing before a human tribunal. *' The case 
of the other two Evangelists is somewJiat different. It has al- 
ways been held that they were under the guidance of apostles 
in what they wrote,— St. Mark under that of St. Peter, and St. 
Luke under that of St. Paul.'' "As St. Mark and St. Luke 
were the companions of apostles, — shared their dangers, con- 
fronted hostile tribunals, had to teach and preach, — there is 
reason to think that they equally enjoyed what they equally 
needed." The portion of the three first gospels which is com- 
mon to all, being derived from the teaching of the apostles in 
general, is drawn directly from an inspired source, and each 

692 Dr, Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, 

gospel has its own features, the divine element having con- 
trolled the human but not destroyed it. 

" There is a perverted form," contiQues Dr. Thompson, " of 
the theory we are considering, which pretends that the facts of 
the Redeemer's life remained in the state of an oral tradition 
till the latter part of the second century, and that the four 
gospels were not written till that time.'' The difference is not 
of degree," he says, "between the opinion that the gospels 
were written during the lifetime of the apostles, who were 
eye-witnesses, and the notion that for nearly a century after 
the oldest of them had passed to his rest, the events were only 
preserved in the changeable and insecure form of an oral 
account. But for the latter opinion there is not one sparh of 
historical evidence.'^ There is certainly none. But if, instead 
of taking the most exaggerated form in which the hypothesis 
he supports has been "perverted," we substitute for "the latter 
part of the second century" " a hundred years after the death 
of Christ," will Dr. Thompson tell us that the " sparks" of evi- 
dence are much more numerous and bright on his side of the 
question than on the other ? If so, where are they ? 

We shall look in vain for them in the articles on the gospels 
of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. St. Matthew's gospel is said to 
be quoted by Justin Martyr and Hegesippus. We know from 
Eusebius that Hegesippus used the " gospel according to the 
Hebrews ;" but this was not St. Matthew. Dr. Thompson al- 
lows that " the citations of Justin Martyr, very important for 
this subject, have been thought to indicate a source different 
from the gospels which we now possess ;" but he has no space 
to show that the dTrofjLVTjfMovev/jiaTa of Justin were the gospels ; 
and that though "Justin quotes the gospels very loosely, so 
that his words often bear but a slight resemblance to the original, 
the same is true of his quotations from the Septuagint." We 
are referred for the disposal of this question to Norton's Genu- 
ineness, vol. i., and Hug's Einleitung. It is scarcely necessary 
to say that both these books, the latter of which was most admir- 
able at the time when it was written, are quite inadequate to 
the wants of the present day. 

"Owing to the very few sections peculiar to Mark," it is 
said in the article on that gospel, "evidence from patristic 
quotation is somewhat difficult to produce. Justin Martyr, 
however, quotes ch. ix. 44, 46, 48, xii. 30, and iii. 17 ; and 
Irenffius cites both the opening and closing words (iii. 10, 6)." 
Here again we have to bear in mind that all the supposed quo- 
tations from the gospels in Justin are, to say the least, very 

Of St. Luke's gospel Dr. Thompson says that " it is quoted 

Dr. Smithes Dictionary of the Bible. 653 

by Justin Martyr, and by tbe author of tbe Clementine 
Homilies. The silence of the apostolic fathers only indicates 
that it was admitted into the canon somewhat late, which was 
probably the case. The result of the Marcion controversy is, 
as we have seen, that our gospel was in use before a.d. 120." 
The mention of the canon leads us to enquire by whom Dr. 
Thompson thinks that of the New Testament was drawn up. 
He objects^^ to Eichhorn's notion that the " Church'^ sanctioned 
the four canonical books, and by its authority gave them ex- 
clusive currency, because " there existed at that time no means 
for convening a council ;" and yet he implies that the canon of 
the l^ew Testament, even as regarding the gospels, was not 
drawn up till after the date of the writings attributed to the 
apostolical fathers. 

If it be important to prove by convincing evidence that the 
gospels were written by contemporaries and eye-witnesses of 
the events which they record, and if this can be done in a way 
which ought to be satisfactory to all fair judges of literary 
history, Dr. Thompson cannot lay any claim to the credit of 
such a success. And his account of the questions raised with 
reference to the contents and purpose of each of the synoptical 
gospels is as unsatisfactory as his proofs of their apostolical 

The gospel of St. John deserved an article at least of the 
same importance as " Isaiah." That by Mr. Bullock is very 
short and insignificant. It simply ignores all the great ques- 
tions to which the gospel has given rise. The same thing is 
true of Dean Alford's article, " Acts of the Apostles." 

The articles on the epistles of St. Paul are often dull, and 
always unimportant. The speculations of the Tubingen school, 
"vyhich have furnished so many suggestions even to its theolo- 
gical and literary opponents in Germany, are only referred to 
occasionally for the purpose of refutation. De Wette, Neander, 
Hase, Reuss, Bleek, and even Thiersch and the Catholic Lutter- 
beck, have better understood how to profit by the critical en- 
quiries which are treated with such contempt by some of the 
writers of the Dictionary. 

The writer of the article "Epistle to the Hebrews," who 
says that the tendency of opinion in Germany is to ascribe the 
epistle to some other author than St. Paul, does not seem to be 
aware that, besides the difierence of style and mode of reasoning 
between it and the acknowledged writings of St. Paul, a difier- 
ence of doctrinal system is strongly asserted to exist. It is only 
Luther whom Mr. Bullock mentions as " unable to perceive its 
agreement with St. Paul's doctrine." Another objection — which, 

1' Vol. ii. p. 277. 

654? Dr, Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. 

as we should put it, is that it quotes a different text^^ of the 
Septuagint from that generally quoted by St. Paul — is thus 
alluded to: *' If St. Paul quotes to the Hebrews the LXX. 
without correcting it where it differs from the Hebrew, this 
agrees with his practice in other epistles, and with the fact 
that, as elsewhere, so in Jerusalem, Hebrew was a dead lan- 
guage, acquired only by much pains by the learned/' 

Mr. F. C. Cook, in the article '* Peter,'' calls attention to 
the fact that the apostle " seems to have conversed fluently in 
Greek with Cornelius, — at least there is no intimation that an 
interpreter was employed, — while it is highly improbable that 
Cornelius, a Eoman soldier, should have used the language of 
Palestine." He says also that " the style of both of St. Peter's 
epistles indicates a considerable knowledge of Greek ; it is pure 
and accurate, and in grammatical structure equal to that of 
St. Paul." This, however, he thinks, may possibly be due to 
the employment of an interpreter ; a hypothesis which would 
explain the difference of style between the two epistles, for that 
the two " coidd not have been composed and written by the 
same person is a point scarcely open to doubt." But when he 
says that *' there are no traces of Greek literature upon [St. 
Peter's] mind, such as we find in St. Paul, nor could we expect 
it in a person of his station, even had Greek been his mother 
tongue," he is not aware that the second epistle attributed to 
St. Peter is more full, perhaps, than all those of St. Paul put 
together of passages closely akia in thought to aphorisms of 
Greek, and particularly Philonic, philosophy.^* 

Of Mr. Meyrick's contributions to the Dictionary, and among 
them some articles upon the epistles of St. James and St. John, 
we shall have occasion to speak later on. Mr. Bullock's article, 
" Revelation of St. John," does not rise above the moderate level 
we are accustomed to in English books on the subject. 

" Introduction" is decidedly one of the weak departments of 
the Dictionarj^ although the articles belonging to it are put 
forward in the editor's preface as " naturally some of the most 
important in the work." A deplorable mediocrity in all that 
regards learning and thought characterises most of them. This 
is particularly true of the articles on the books of the New Tes- 
tament. But with the exception, perhaps, of what Mr. West- 
cott writes on parts of the ''Apocrypha," the articles both on 
Old and New Testament books are all utterly unworthy to be 
compared with the corresponding ones in the ordinary German 
works on " Introduction." From some of our remarks it may 
perhaps be thought that we chiefly object to the apologetic and 

'» A reading of Deut xxxii. 35 differing from the Hebrew and common 
Septuagint texts is, however, quoted both in Rom. xii.JO and Heb. x. 30. 
'* See Schwegler, Das nachapostoUschc Zeilalter, i. 515. 

Dr. Smithes Dictionary of the Bible, Q55 

conservative spirit which prevails throughout these articles. 
We certainly do think that in a work of the kind objectivity is 
what should chiefly be aimed at. But we do not find fault with 
any amount of conservatism which is consistent with objective 
truth. It is not with the conclusions considered in themselves 
that we quarrel, but with the facts and arguments by which 
they are supported. The interests of the most conservative 
theology are here in fact identical with those of critical science. 
It is not for the benefit of religion that all the positions taken 
up by its defenders should be evidently such as may be under- 
mined, turned, or carried by assault. 

The apologetic interest, to which a part at least of the de- 
fects of the articles about which we have been speaking is due, 
is necessarily less prominent in the purely biographical and 
historical articles. Many of these are admirably written. It 
is not often that contributions to a Dictionary possess the pic- 
turesque beauty of such articles as " Moses," " Samuel,'' " Saul,'' 
** David," " Jonathan," *' Jeroboam," and some others by Dr. 
Stanley. There is an exquisite charm about them, which ought 
not, however, to blind one to their defects. Dr. Stanley is too 
apt to fill up the gaps of the Hebrew narrative with doubtful 
details from the Septuagint or Josephus ; perhaps from tradi- 
tions even still more questionable. But we only do him justice 
in saying that the strict accuracy with which he invariably 
gives his authorities enables the reader to exercise a watchful 
criticism over what he reads. Mr. Bullock's articles on the 
** Kingdoms of Israel and Judah" are very superior to those he 
has written on books of Scripture. " Elijah" and " Elisha," like 
most of Mr. Grove's articles, are excellent. The history of the 
Maccabees, of several of the Seleucidae, and of the Herodian 
family, are well given by Mr. "Westcott. The biographies of the 
New Testament are of much less value as Dictionary articles 
than those of the Old. They are all more or less coloured by 
the controversies of the day ; and the writers are too apt to 
imagine themselves working for the pulpit or for a theological 

We must not, however, forget that one unfortunate bio- 
graphical article belongs to the Old Testament. It is under 
*'Noah" that the difficulties of the Flood are considered. The 
writer, Mr. Perowne, takes the greatest pains to gather together 
all the difficulties that are involved in the admission of a uni- 
versal deluge. And he then proceeds to argue that the biblical 
narrative does not compel us to adopt so tremendous an hypo- 
thesis. The language is confessedly strong, but he thinks it 
may be got over. It is got over, in fact, by such expedients 
as the following : "It is true that Noah is told to take two *of 

656 Dr. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. 

every living thing of all flesh/ but that could only mean two of 
every animal then known to him, unless we suppose him to 
have had supernatural information in zoology imparted — a 
thing quite incredible." *'It is natural to suppose that the 
writer, when he speaks of ' all flesh,' ' all in whose nostrils 
was the breath of life,' refers only to his own locality." What ! 
after having read, " And the Lord said, I will destroy man 
whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and 
beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air ; for it 

repenteth me that I have made them And God said 

unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the 
earth is filled with violence through them ; and behold I wiU 
destroy them with the earth." Was it only in Noah's locality 
that the earth was filled with the violence of man and beast 
and creeping thing and fowl of the air? Again, after the 
Flood, God says, " I will not again curse the ground any more 
for man's sake . . . neither will I again smite any more every 
thing living as I have done." And again, " I will establish 
my covenant with you ; neither shall all flesh be cut off any 
more by the waters of a flood ; neither shall there any more he 
a flood to destroy the earth.'' Partial inundations of the most 
terrific and destructive kind have certainly taken place in his- 
toric times. How do the words we have printed in italics har- 
monise with Mr. Perowne's hypothesis that the Noachic deluge 
was a partial inundation, " similar to what occurred in the Eunn 
of Cutch, on the eastern arm of the Indus, in 1819, when the 
sea flowed in, and in a few hours converted a tract of land 
2000 square miles in area into an inland sea or lagoon" ? 

The chief difficulty which he perceives is the connection of 
the statement that " all the high hills that were under the whole 
heaven were covered," with the district in which Noah is sup- 
posed to have lived, and the assertion that the waters prevailed 
fifteen cubits upward. It would have been impossible for the 
mountain now called Ararat to have been covered unless the 
whole earth were submerged. But he suggests that instead of 
Ararat, " a lower mountain range, such as the Zagros range, 
for instance, may be intended." We may be mistaken in our 
calculations ; but it seems to us impossible to imagine any other 
than a universal deluge as covering either the Zagros or any 
other range of mountains, and reaching fifteen cubits above it. 

The violence done to the sacred text by such interpretations 
is contrary to all the principles of sound exegesis. The Noachic 
deluge is unmistakeably represented as universal and destruc- 
tive of all life except what was preserved in the ark. If, as 
Mr. Perowne believes, the scientific evidence against the hypo- 
thesis of a universal deluge is conclusive, the biblical narrative 

Dr, Smith's Dictioriary of the Bible, 657 

is, in some important particulars at least, not historically 

Tlie important question, liow far inspiration implies infalli- 
bility in historical statements, is, of course, nowhere discussed 
in the Dictionary. Most of the writers appear to take it for 
granted that inspiration excludes the possibility of historical 
inaccuracy. The opposite view, however, is indirectly incul- 
cated in Dr. Stanley's article " Stephen." It is there observed 
that no less than twelve of St. Stephen's references to the Mo- 
saic history differ from it either by variation or addition. Some 
of these variations are very remarkable ; for instance — 

" 1. The call of Abraham before the migration to Haran ([Acts] 
vii. 2), not as according to Gen. xii. 1, in Haran. 

2. The death of his father after the call (vii. 4), not as according 
to Gen. xi. 32, before it. 

3. The seventy-five souls of Jacob's migration (vii. 14), not as 
according to Gen. xlvi. 27, seventy. 

12. The purchase of the tomb at Shechem by Abraham from the 
sons of Emmor (vii. 16), not as according to Gen. xxiii. 15, the purchase 
of the cave at Machpelah from Ephron the Hittite." 

"It may almost be said," adds Dr. Stanley, "that the whole speech 
is a protest against a rigid view of the mechanical exactness of the 
inspired records of the Old Testament : ' He had regard,' as St. Jerome 
says, ' to the meaning, not to the words.' " 

A great Catholic theologian, Melchior Canus,^^ finds no dif- 
ficulty in allowing that St. Stephen's memory failed him. The 
evangelist correctly reported his speech, and " nos non Stepha- 
num ab omni lapsu sed Evangelistam vindicare debemus." But 
the dogmatic obligation is quite as great in one case as in the 
other. St. Stephen is described as "full of the Holy Ghost;" 
and as speaking under those circumstances, wdth reference to 
which it was said, " It shall be given to you in that same hour 
what you shall speak. For it is not you that speak, but the 
Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." The inspiration 
of St. Stephen is as solemnly guaranteed to us as that of a 
writer of one of the books of Scripture ; and if an admitted 
" lapsus in parvis" is not inconsistent with the inspiration of 
the one, neither need it be so with that of the other. 

Theology is distinctly excluded from the " scope and object" 
of the Dictionary, which the editor says is not intended " to 
explain systems of theology, or discuss points of controversial 
divinity.'^ In spite of this announcement a good many topics 
of controversy are discussed, the writers apparently finding it 
hard to resist the temptation of proving that their own High, 
Low, or Broad, Church opinions were shared by the writers of 
the Bible. 

'"' De Locis, ii. 18. 

658 Dr. Smith's Dictionarij of the Bible. 

The controversial spirit is most conspicuously and offensively 
displayed by Mr. Meyrick, who intrudes his sectarian views 
every where. This j2:rievous blemish is by no means compen- 
sated by the merit of his articles. That on the first epistle of 
St. John, one of the most magnificent subjects that could fall 
to the lot of a writer, does not rise above the level of a school- 
book. In that on the epistle of St. James we are told that the 
Jewish vices against which Christians are warned are, " For- 
malism, which made the service {dprja/cela) of God consist in 
washings and outward ceremonies, whereas he reminds them 
(i. 27) that it consists rather in Active Love and Purity (see 
Coleridge's Aids to Reflection , Aph. 23 ; note also Active 
Love=Bp. Butler's * Benevolence^ and Purity =Bp. Butler's 
* Temperance') ; Fanaticism," &c. St. James's doctrine of jus- 
tification and the unction of the sick demand a somewhat more 
lengthened notice. The discrepancy between St. James and 
St. Paul is explained by "faith^^ meaning '* fides informis" in 
the former, and " fides forraata" in the latter ; and some old 
Anglican books are referred to for further information. Mr. 
Meyrick does not seem to know that very important things 
have been written on the subject since the time of Bull and 
Taylor, or even of Lawrence's Bampton Lectures. He is not 
accurate in speaking of James v. 14, 15, as being quoted as 
the authority (in his sense of the term) for the sacrament of ex- 
treme unction. The unction of the sick was not adopted on 
the authority of any text of Scripture. It has been practised, 
like infant baptism, from time immemorial, not only in the 
Catholic church in communion with Rome, but in all the East- 
ern churches, *' orthodox" and heretical. The earliest mention 
of it in ecclesiastical antiquity is not as of a novelty, but merely 
as of an existing practice. St. James is only quoted in proof of 
the antiquity of the practice, and of its being approved by him. 
The " extraordinary gifts of the Spirit," in which Mr. Meyrick, 
like the common herd of Protestant controversialists, sees a cha- 
racteristic distinction between the apostolic and the present 
practice, might with as full right be quoted against the prac- 
tices of baptism and the imposition of hands. 

His article " Mary the Virgin" is in great part a furious 
and ignorant onslaught on ''Mariolatry ;" though by what 
right this should be introduced into Dr. Smith's Dictionary we 
cannot see. The history of the " cultus of the Blessed Virgin" 
does not come within the scope of the work any more than 
those of the cultus of our Lord and the Holy Ghost, about 
which Mr. Meyrick might find it difficult to write so fluently 
if he were somewhat better informed than he appears to be. 
He believes no doubt that Christ was invoked as Almighty 

Dr. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. 659 

God from tlie first ; but if so, what has he to reply to those 
who would use his own words against him?^*^ "There is 
nothing of the sort in the supposed works of Hermas and 
Barnabas, nor in the real works of Clement, Ignatius, and 
Polycarp — that is, the doctrine is not to be found in the first 
century. There is nothing of the sort in Justin Martyr, Tatian, 
Athenagoras, Theophilus, Clement of Alexandria, TertuUian — 
that is, in the second century. There is nothing of the sort 
in Origen, Gregory Thaumaturgus, Cyprian, Methodius, Lac- 
tantius — that is, in the third century." And when he goes 
beyond the third century, his argument (for his historical 
sketch is in fact a mere controversial argument) breaks down 
before considerations of another kind. Were it ever so true 
that the writers of the fourth, fifth, or ever so many succeeding 
centuries were silent as to the cultus of the Blessed Virgin, can 
it be denied that these very writers are most enthusiastic pa- 
trons of the cultus of the saints, amongst whom Mr. Meyrick 
himself places the Blessed Virgin ? 

Dr. Kewman's use of the word " deification" with reference 
to the saints is spoken of as characteristic of modern Romanism ; 
it is, on the contrary, infinitely more common in the writings 
of the fourth and fifth centuries ;^^ and the notion is ante-Nicene 
that " God became man that man might become God.'^^^ 

We are not writing a defence of Catholic doctrines, but pro- 
testing against Mr. Meyrick^s use of Dr. Smith's Dictionary for 
the propagation of his absurd no-Popery arguments. Of his 
section on the Immaculate Conception we shall only say that 
there is not a line in it which betrays the slightest acquaintance 
with the theological grounds on which the doctrine is, rightly 
or wrongly, supposed to rest. 

But the calibre of Mr. Meyrick' s theological science may 
be judged from the following specimen, taken from his article 

" That the harlot-woman must be an unfaithful Church is argued 
convincingly by Wordsworth (On the Apocalypse^ p. 376), and no less 
decisively by Isaac Williams (The Apocalypse, p. 335). A close consi- 
deration of the language and import of St. John's prophecy appears, as 
Mr. Williams says, to leave no room for doubt on this point. If this be 
so, the conclusion seems almost necessarily to follow that the unfaithful 
Church spoken of is, as Dr. Wordsworth argues, the Church of Rome. 

'6 Vol. ii. p. 267. 

^7 It is often found even in ante-Nicene writers. For numerous examples 
see a note of Potter in Clem. Alex. t. i. p. 88. One of the passages quoted is 
0€OTal, ^yyeXoi Koi deoi, " ubi Deos appellat beatorum animas." Potter's own 
explanation of this language is one-sided. 

•^ See Iren. adv. Hceres. prsef. ad lib. v. ; Tertull. Apol. c. 21 ; Cyprian, de 
Vanit. Idol. c. 6. Innumerable passages to the same effect might be referred to 
in later authors. 


660 Dr, Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. 

And this appears to be the case. The Babylon of the Apocalypse is 
probably the Church of Rome, which gradually raised and seated her- 
self on the back of the corrupted Church, — the Harlot rider on the 

Should trash, of this sort be tolerated in a Dictionary which 
comes before the public with such pretensions as that of Dr. 

The most abstruse article in the Dictionary is that on '* Mira- 
cles/' by Dr. Fitzgerald, Protestant Bishop of Killaloe. It is a 
laborious and indeed painful attempt to maintain an indefen- 
sible position — a belief in the miracles of the Bible, combined 
with a disbelief of all others. Such a belief, however, is by no 
means difficult to one who declares that '' in the case of the 
Christian [z. e. Scripture] miracles, the truth of the facts, vary- 
ing as they do from our ordinary experience, is far more cre- 
dible than the falsehood of a testimony so circumstanced as that 
by which they are attested." If this were clearly the case of 
the Scripture miracles, it would hardly be necessary to write so 
long and elaborate an article as that of Dr. Fitzgerald. But 
we have seen how difficult it was for Dr. Thompson to find wit- 
nesses for the historians of the New Testament miracles. The 
peculiarity, however, according to Dr. Fitzgerald, of these mira- 
cles, as to their external evidence, is that they are attested by 
" inspired historians ;" and he eiddentty attaches to the word 
" inspired" a sense which would make it impossible for any one 
who allows it to question the conclusions which it implies. But 
he has omitted to tell m& in what the evidence for the superna- 
tural character of the testimony consists. In spite of the refer- 
ences to Hume and other writers on the subject of miracles, the 
whole article seems to give an idea of the motives which would 
naturally lead Dr. Fitzgerald himself to doubt the occurrence of 
miracles, and of the considerations on the other side of the ques- 
tion which would weigh strongly on his own mind, rather than 
of considerations which actually impel the present generation 
of thinkers one way or another. We are far from denying the 
force of his reasonings, taken separately ; much of what he says 
in favour of the Scripture miracles is extremely cogent, and so 
is much of what he saj^s in denial of ecclesiastical miracles. 
But the legitimate result of these reasonings is, contrary to the 
writer's intention, either conservative as to ecclesiastical mira- 
cles, or destructive as to those recorded in Scripture. The at- 
tempt to draw a logical distinction between the two series is 
utterly futile ; and its futility is becoming more and more appa- 
rent every day. Dr. Smith's Dictionary will, no doubt, help 
Englishmen to see how unfairly the evidence is dealt with, ac- 
cording as it refers to Scripture miracles or to those of ecclesias- 

Dr, Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, 06 1 

tical history. The silence of Eusebius, for instance, on the In- 
vention of the Cross is held to outweigh the positive evidence of 
even a host of ecclesiastical authors, and indeed the unanimous 
belief of contemporary Christendom ; whilst the " perplexing 
phenomenon," as Professor Plumptre calls it, that the first three 
gospels omit all mention of so wonderful a fact as the resur- 
rection of Lazarus, excites no wonder in ordinary readers of the 

The geographical articles are, as a rule, excellent. It is, 
however, to be regretted that the paradoxes of so able a writer 
as Mr. Fergusson about the site of the Holy Sepulchre should 
be given to the reader as the latest results of topographical 
science. It has always been considered that the site now 
pointed out as that of the Holy Sepulchre is the same as that 
recognised as such in the time of Constantino ; and the only 
question has been held to be, whether Constantino and his con- 
temporaries were not mistaken. The chief, or rather the only 
serious, reason for distrusting their evidence lay in the position 
of the supposed Grolgotha. On looking at its place on the map 
of Jerusalem, it was difficult to believe that such a site could 
ever have been a place of tombs, and lain without the walls of 
the city. But this topographical difficulty has certainly been 
cleared up. " In the topographical question," says Dr. Stanley, 
liimself a sceptic on the subject, " the opponents of the iden- 
tity of the Sepulchre have never done justice to the argument 
first cleari}^ stated in England by Lord IN'ugent, and pointedly 
brought out by Professor Willis, which is derived from the 
so-called tombs of Joseph and JN^icodemus. Underneath the 
western galleries of the church, behind the Holy Sepulchre, are 
two excavations in the face of the rock, forming an ancient 
Jewish sepulchre as clearly as any that can be seen in the Val- 
ley of Hinnom or in the Tombs of the Kings The tradi- 
tional names of Joseph and Nicodemus are probably valueless ; 
but the existence of these sepulchres proves almost to a certainty 
that at some period the site of the present church must have 
been outside the walls of the city, and lends considerable proba- 
bility to the belief that the rocky excavation — which perhaps 
exists in part still, and certainly once existed entire — within 
the marble casing of the chapel of the Holy Sepulchre was at 
any rate a really ancient tomb, and not, as is often rashly 
asserted, a modern structure intended to imitate it.'^ Now of 
this solution of the topographical difficulty Mr. Fergusson says 
nothing. He merely repeats that "the site of the present 
church is obviously at variance with the facts of the Bible nar- 
rative." But he argues, on the other hand, with great force, in 
favour of the probability that Constantino and those who acted 

662 Dr. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, 

with him possessed sufficient information to enable them ta 
ascertain exactly the precise localities of the crucifixion and 
burial of our Lord. The mistake, he thinks, was not made by 
Constantino and his contemporaries, but by the Christians of a 
later age, after the Holy Sepulchre had fallen into the hands of 
the Saracens. The ingenious arguments by which he \mder- 
takes to prove that the site of Constantine's Basilica is to be 
identified with that of the Mosque of Omar have now for a long 
time been before the learned world, and have not produced con- 
viction. Most persons will agree with Dr. Stanley in consider- 
ing the historical objections to this hypothesis insurmountable. 

Mr. Layard, Professor Rawlinson, Professor Oppert, and 
Mr. R. S. Poole of the British Museum, have contributed ar- 
ticles which represent the amount of illustration that biblical 
science may derive from recent discoveries in Babylonian and 
Egyptian archaeology. The article " Nineveh" is by Mr. Layard. 
To Professor Oppert we are indebted for one containing the 
translation of the Borsippa inscription, in which he sees an 
allusion to the confusion of tongues. The new witness to the 
biblical narrative is no other than King IS'abuchodonosor. ''A 
former king,'' he says, ** built [the Tower of Borsippa] (they 
reckon forty-two ages), but he did not complete its head. Since 
a remote time people had abando7ied it, without order expressing 
their words. Since that time the earthquake and the thunder 
had dispersed its sun-dried clay ; the bricks of the casing had 
been split, and the earth of the interior had been scattered 
in heaps. Merodach, the great lord, excited my mind to repair 
this building,^' &c. Whatever differences may exist among 
scholars as to the exact interpretation of the inscriptions in 
cuneiform character, there can be no doubt that the department 
undertaken by Professor Rawlinson, who has furnished a long 
series of valuable articles, could not have been entrusted to 
better hands. We are sorry not to be able to speak quite as 
favourably of Mr. R. S. Poole's articles. The absurd blunders 
which are constantly made by biblical scholars when they ap- 
peal to Egyptian lore for illustration, and the frequency of these 
appeals, furnish very good reasons for entrusting an important 
department of the Dictionary to a competent and trustworthy 
scholar. But Mr. Poole, in spite of his undoubted learning, is 
not altogether to be depended upon. In this department there 
are, of course, blunders and omissions for which he is not re- 
sponsible. He is not to be blamed if the derivation of Behemoth m 
from an impossible Coptic word supposed to signify " water-ox'*^ J 
is repeated by Mr. Drake and Mr. Bevan ; he would, no doubt, 
if consulted, have assured Dr. Stanley that tlie etymology of 
the name Moses, from the Coptic " mo — water, and ushe — 

Dr, Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, 663 

saved," is not to be seriously thought of ; he would have been 
able to give curious and interesting information not found in 
the articles "Askalon," ''Damascus," and others. The dis- 
covery made by M. Chabas that the Egyptians practised circum- 
cision at a time which we believe to be anterior to the Exodus, 
and that of the etymology of I^o-Ammon, are too recent to have 
been utilised. But our quarrel with him is not for being be- 
hind the best Egyptologists of the day, or for the faults and 
shortcomings of his fellow-contributors, but for his own serious 
mistakes, and particularly for using the pages of so important 
a work of reference as a Bible Dictionary (and so many of them 
too) for the purpose of giving currency to fancies which, he 
should be aware, can never meet with the sanction of first-rate 
scholars. We are aware that he sometimes ventures to express 
his dissent from the authority of great scholars, but it is not by 
any means clear that he does so with advantage to himself or 
others. In the article " Magic,'' for instance, he conjectures an 
etymological relation between the Hebrew teraphim and an 
Egyptian group which beyond all question ought to be read 
cheper, but which he reads ter. The difficulty arising from the 
want in this word of the third radical of teraphim he acknow- 
ledges to be a serious one ; but he falls back " on our present 
state of ignorance respecting the ancient Egyptian and the 
primitive language of Chaldsea in their verbal relations to the 
Semitic family." 

The following note, however, strikes us with astonishment : 

"Egyptologists have generally read this word TEE. Mr. Birch, 
however, reads it CHEPER. .... The balance is decided by the 
discovery of the Coptic equivalent TCV * transmutare,' in which the 
absence of the final R is explained by a peculiar but regular modifica- 
tion which the writer was the first to point out (Hieroglyphics, Ency- 
clopcedia Britannicay 8th ed. p. 421)." 

Here we have, in the first place, a statement implying that 
a reading, cheper, of one of the commonest words in the Egyp- 
tian language (it signifies be, become) is peculiar to Mr. Birch, 
Egyptologists in general reading the word otherwise ; whilst it 
is notorious, on the other hand, that ever since Mr. Birch dis- 
covered proofs of the reading cheper, every Egyptologist of note 
has accepted this reading. The evidence in its favour was 
irresistible. And, secondly, Mr. Poole has the appearance at 
least of claiming the priority of the discovery of an important 
philological law which is distinctly enunciated by ChampoUion 
in his Egyptian Grammar. 

All competent judges, we are sure, will agree with us that 
Mr. Poole is not the safest guide in Egyptian philology, and. 

664" Dr. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, 

will be disposed to look with suspicion on his numerous contri- 
butions to Dr. Smith's Dictionary. The speculations in the 
articles " Naphtuhim^^ and "Phut^^ are quite unfit for such a 
work. And what else can be said of the following chain of rea- 
soning from the article *' Caphtor, Caphtorim" ? The Phi- 
listines, it will be remembered, are said to have come from 
Caphtor, and are called Caphtorim. 

*^The writer {Encyclopcedia Britannica^ 8th ed., Egypt, p. 419) has 
proposed to recognise Caphtor in the ancient Egyptian name of Coptos. 
This name, if Hterally transcribed, is written in the hieroglyphics Kebtu, 
Keb-ta, and Keb-Her,i^ probably pronounced Kubt, Kabt, and Kebt- 
Hor (Brugsch, Geogr. Inschr. Taf. xxxviii. no. 899,900), whence 
Coptic . . . Gr. KoTTTos, Arab . . . Kuft. The similarity of name is so 
great that it alone might satisfy us ; but the correspondence of AiyirTrros, 
as if ATa yvTCTO'Si to ""•i^^? ■'s:, unless "^i? refer to the Philistine coast, 
seems conclusive. We must not suppose, however, that Caphtor was 
Coptos : it must rather be compared to the Coptite nome, probably in 
primitive ages of greater extent than under the Ptolemies, for the num- 
ber of nomes was in the course of time greatly extended." 

The articles " Chronology,' ' *' Egypt,'' "The Exodus," 
" Pharaoh," and some others, are written for the purpose of 
supporting what we consider a completely false system of bib- 
lical chronology. Some, indeed, of Mr. Poole's chronological 
arguments we confess to be unintelligible to us. We do not 
understand, for instance, his favourite one, " from the celebra- 
tion of great passovers.'' The paragraph on "sabbatical and 
jubilee years" finishes with the following sentence : " This re- 
sult would place the Exodus in the middle of the seventeenth 
century B.C., a time for which we believe there is a preponder- 
ance of evidence." We find it impossible to discover the pre- 
misses or train of reasoning which are supposed to lead to this 

Other arguments of Mr. Poole for his date of the Exodus 
have already been noticed in this Review, and it is unnecessary 
to repeat the arguments by which they are met. It is, however, 
important to state that his solution of the difiiculty about the 
treasure-cities Pithom and Pameses appears to us untenable. 
" We need only repeat,'' he says, " that the highest date to 
which Pameses I. can be reasonably assigned is consistent alone 
with the Pabbinical date of the Exodus, and that we find a 
prince of the same name two centuries earlier, and therefore at 
a time perhaps consistent with Ussher's date, so that the place 
might have taken its name either from this prince or a yet 
earlier king or prince Rameses." This solution of a really in- 

"• Keb-Her or Keb-Hor signifies " the Coptos of the god Horus." The god's 
name is no part of the geographical name. 

Br. Smitlis Dictionary of the Bible, 665 

surmountable difficulty in the way of Mr. Poole's chronological 
hypothesis inyolves an important philological error. The He- 
brew transcription DOa^i leaves no doubt as to the Egyptian 
name for which it stands. That name is the royal one of Ra- 
mes-es, frequently written Ra-mes-su ; and the formation of it 
is very remarkable. It is not made up of two elements, like 
Aah-mes, Thoth-mes, Chonsu-mes, but of three. The second D 
of the Hebrew transcription represents as distinct and essential 
a syllabic portion of the name as the first syllable, 37^, or the 
second, D>::. Whatever explanation be given of the name, it 
is not grammatically equivalent to Ea-mes, which is literally 
" Sun-born." This, and not Rameses, is the name of the prince 
referred to by Mr. Poole. To identify the two names is as great 
an error as to confound Forest and Forester. 

The science of language is represented in two or three arti- 
cles. That on " Shemitic Languages and Writing," by Arch- 
deacon Ormerod, contains a good , deal of interesting matter 
borrowed from Max Miiller, Renan, Ewald, and other philolo- 
gists; but the writer's own judgment is by no means to be relied 
upon. The following passage will, we suspect, meet but little 
favour among really sound philologists : 

*' Is it altogether a wild conjecture to assume as not impossible the 
formation of a sacred language among the chosen people, at so marked 
a period of their history as that of Moses ? Every argument leads to a 
belief that the popular dialect of the Hebrews from a very early period 
was deeply tinged with Aramaic, and that it continued so. But there is 
surely nothing unlikely or inconsistent in the notion that he who was 
'learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians' should have been taught to 
introduce a sacred language, akin but superior to the every-day dialect 
of his people, — the property of the rulers, and which subsequent writers 
should be guided to copy." 

There remain, of course, a great many articles of which we 
have not spoken ; but, with the exception of those belonging to 
the department of natural history, which cannot be too highly 
praised, they do not call for any special notice. Our remarks 
have been confined to those upon which the character of the 
Dictionary chiefly depends; and with reference to them, it 
is impossible for us to judge more favourably than we have 
done in the foregoing pages. They are unsatisfactory from a 
purely scientific point of view ; and, if considered with reference 
to the apologetic purpose which seems to have inspired many of 
them, they are deplorable. During the last hundred years the 
external evidences of Christianity have undergone a profound 
modification, partly through changes of opinion as to the nature 
of historical evidence in general, and partly through the discus- 
sion of evidences special to Christianity. That which was for- 

666 Dr. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, 

merly considered important evidence in political or literary 
history is now, in many cases, not considered as evidence at all. 
It cannot be expected that, if the apostolic antiquity of the 
gospels is called in question, its adversaries will accept as con- 
vincing what might have been a hundred years ago, but would 
not now be, so considered in the case of profane literature. 
It has been demonstrated that part of the evidence to which 
learned Protestants appealed in past times is in fact part of 
that very Catholic tradition against which the Reformers pro- 
tested, and that its sole cogency as evidence is derived from the 
authority, rightly or wrongly, assigned to Catholic tradition as 
such.^^ It cannot be accepted without involving the additional 
evidence which it furnishes of the apostolic origin of the entire 
Catholic system, as found in the Fathers of the latter half of the 
second century. And this, again, involves a great deal more than 
is explicitly written in the works of the Fathers. Every argu- 
ment which tells against tradition tells also against the evidence 
for the Bible ; and the Bible can only recover its authority on 
grounds which cannot be conceded without also admitting the 
fundamental doctrines of Catholicism. 

-0 " Abgesehen von dieser Halbheit verwickelte sich jedoch der Protestan- 
tismus mit seiner Verwerfung der Tradition in anflfallende Inkonsequenzen. 
Einerseits sind die katholischen Ueberlieferungen, die er fallen liess, zum Theil 
Tim nichts schlechter geschichtlich bezeugt, als diejenigen die es in christlichem 
Interesse festlialten zu miissen geglaubt hat ; andererseits ist es ja einzig die 
katholische Tradition, durch welche das N. T. selbst beglaubigt und Tcrbiirgt 
ist ; denn dass jene Schriften, in welehen der Protestantismus seine normativen 
Glaubensurkunden erkennt, wirklich apostolischen TJrsprungs seyen, sagt uns 
nur jene kirchliche Tradition, deren Gultigkeit und zuiangliche Beweiskraft 
die Reformation eben bestreitet." Schwegler, Nachapostolisches Zeitalter, B. i. 
p. 3. 

[ 667 ] 


Among the causes \Yliich have brought dishonour on the Church 
in recent years, none have had a more fatal operation than those 
conflicts with science and literature which have led men to dis- 
pute the competence, or the justice, or the wisdom, of her au- 
thorities. Rare as such conflicts have been, they have awakened 
a special hostility which the defenders of Catholicism have not 
succeeded in allaying. They have induced a suspicion that 
the Church, in her zeal for the prevention of error, represses 
that intellectual freedom which is essential to the progress of 
truth ; that she allows an administrative interference with con- 
victions to which she cannot attach the stigma of falsehood; 
and that she claims a right to restrain the growth of knowledge, 
to justify an acquiescence in ignorance, to promote error, and 
even to alter at her arbitrary will the dogmas that are proposed 
to faith. There are few faults or errors imputed to Catholicism, 
which individual Catholics have not committed or held; and 
the instances on which these particular accusations are founded 
have sometimes been supplied by the acts of authority itself. 
Dishonest controversy loves to confound the personal with the 
spiritual element in the Church — to ignore the distinction be- 
tween the sinful agents and the divine institution. And this 
confusion makes it easy to deny, what otherwise would be too 
evident to question, that knowledge has a freedom in the Ca- 
tholic Church which it can find in no other religion ; though 
there, as elsewhere, freedom degenerates unless it has to struggle 
in its own defence. 

Nothing can better illustrate this truth than the actual 
course of events in the cases of Lamennais and Frohschammer. 
They are two of the most conspicuous instances in point ; and 
they exemplify the opposite mistakes through which a haze of 
obscurity has gathered over the true notions of authority and 
freedom in the Church. The correspondence of Lamennais and 
the later writings of Frohschammer furnish a revelation which 
ought to warn all those who, through ignorance, or timidity, or 
weakness of faith, are tempted to despair of the reconciliation 
between science and religion, and to acquiesce either in the sub- 
ordination of one to the other, or in their complete separation 
and estrangement. Of these alternatives Lamennais chose the 
first, Frohschammer the second ; and the exaggeration of the 
claims of authority by the one, and the extreme assertion of 
independence by the other, have led them, by contrary paths, 
to nearly the same end. 

668 Conflicts loith Rome, 

When Lamennais surveyed the fluctuations of science, the 
multitude of opinions, the confusion and conflict of theories, he 
■was led to doubt the efficacy of all human tests of truth. Science 
seemed to him essentially tainted with hopeless uncertainty. 
In his ignorance of its methods, he fancied them incapable 
of attaining to any thing more than a greater or less degree of 
probability, and powerless to afford a strict demonstration, or 
to distinguish the deposit of real knowledge amidst the turbid 
current of opinion. He refused to admit that there is a sphere 
within which metaphysical philosophy speaks with absolute 
certainty, or that the landmarks set up by history and natural 
science may be such as neither authority nor prescription, 
neither the doctrine of the schools ner the interest of the 
Church, has the power to disturb or the right to evade. These 
sciences presented to his eyes a chaos incapable of falling into 
order and haniiony by any internal self-development, and re- 
quiring the action of an external director to clear up its dark- 
ness and remove its uncertainty. He thought that no research, 
however rigorous, could make sure of any fragment of know- 
ledge worthy the name, tie admitted no certainty but that 
which relied on the general tradition of mankind, recorded and 
sanctioned by the infallible judgment of the Holy See. He 
would have all power committed, and every question referred, 
to that supreme and universal authority. Y^y its means he 
would supply all the gaps in the horizon of the human intellect, 
settle every controversy, solve the problems of science, and 
regulate the policy of states. 

The extreme Ultramontanism which seeks the safeguard of 
faith in the absolutism of Rome he believed to be the keystone 
of the Catholic system. In his eyes, all who rejected it, the 
Jesuits among them, were Galileans ; and Gallicanism was the 
corruption of the Christian idea.^ " If my principles are re- 
jected," he wrote on the 1st of November 1820, "I see no 
means of defending religion effectually, no decisive answer to 
the objections of the unbelievers of our time. How could 
these principles be favourable to them? they are simply the 
development of the great Catholic maxim, quod semper, quod 
uhique, quod ah omnibus." Joubert said of him, with perfect 
justice, that when he destroyed all the bases of human certainty, 
in order to tretain no foundation but authority, he destroyed 
authority itself. The confidence which led him to confound the 
human element with the divine in the Holy See was destined 
to be tried by the severest of all tests ; and his exaggeration of 
the infallibility of the Pope proved fatal to his religious faith. 

In 1831 the Eoman Breviary was not to be bought in Paris. 
^ Lvimenn&is, Correspondance. Nouvelle edition. (Paris: Didier.) 

Conflicts icith Rome, 669 

We may hence measure the amount of opposition with which 
Lamennais's endeavours to exalt Rome would be met by the 
majority of the French bishops and clergy, and by the school of 
St. Sulpice. For him, on the other hand, no terms were too 
strong to express his animosity against those who rejected his 
teaching and thwarted his designs. The bishops he railed 
at as idiotic devotees, incredibly blind, supernaturally foolish. 
The Jesuits, he said, were " grenadiers de la folie,^^ and united 
imbecility with the vilest passions.^ He fancied that in many 
dioceses there was a conspiracy to destroy religion, that a schism 
was at hand, and that the reoistance of the clergy to his prin- 
ciples threatened to destroy Catholicism in France. Rome, he 
was sure, would help him in his struggle against her faithless 
assailants, on behalf of her authority, and in his endeavours to 
make the clergy refer their disputes to her, so as to receive 
from the Pope's mouth the infallible oracles of eternal truth.^ 
Whatever the Pope might decide, would, he said, be right, for 
the Pope alone was infallible. Bishops might be sometimes 
resisted, but the Pope never.^ It was both absurd and blas- 
phemous even to advise him. " I have read in the Diario di 
Roma,'' he said, " the advice of M. de Chateaubriand to the 
Holy Ghost. At any rate, the Holy Ghost is fully warned ; 
and if he makes a mistake this time, it will not be the ambas- 
sador's fault.'-' 

Three Popes passed away ; and still nothing was done 
against the traitors he was for ever denouncing. This reserve 
astounded him. Was Rome herself tainted with Gallicanism, 
and in league with those who had conspired for her destruction ? 
What but a schism could ensue from this inexplicable apathy ? 
The silence was a grievous trial to his faith. " Let us shut our 
eyes,'' he said, " let us invoke the Holy Spirit, let us collect all 
the powers of our soul, that our faith may not be shaken."^ In 
his perplexity he began to make distinctions between the Pope 
and the Roman Court. The advisers of the Pope were traitors, 
dwellers in the outer darkness, blind and deaf; the Pope himself 
and he alone was infallible, and would never act so as to injure 
the faith, though meanwhile he was not aware of the real state 
of things, and was evidently deceived by false reports.^ A few 
months later came the necessity for a further distinction be- 
tween the Pontiff and the Sovereign. If the doctrines of the 
Avenir had caused displeasure at Rome, it was only on political 
grounds. If the Pope was oiFended, he was offended not as 
Vicar of Christ, but as a temporal monarch implicated in the 
political system of Europe. In his capacity of spiritual head of 

2 April 12 and June 25, 1830. 3 ^cb. 27, 1831. 

* March 30, 1831. ^ May 8 and June 15, 1829. ^ j-gb^ 5, 1830. 

670 . Coirflicts with Rome, 

the Clmrch, he could not condemn writers for sacrificing all 
human and political considerations to the supreme interests of 
the Church, but must in reality agree with them."^ As the 
Polish Revolution brought the political questions into greater 
prominence, Lamennais became more and more convinced of 
the wickedness of those who surrounded Gregory XVI., and of 
the political incompetence of the Pope himself. He described 
him as weeping and praying, motionless amidst the darkness 
which the ambitious, corrupt, and frantic idiots around him 
were ever striving to thicken.^ Still he felt secure. When the 
foundations of the Church were threatened, when an essential 
doctrine was at stake, though, for the first time in eighteen cen- 
turies, the supreme authority might refuse to speak,^ at least 
it could not speak out against the truth. In this belief he made 
his last journey to Rome. Then came his condemnation. The 
staflf on which he leaned with all his weight broke in his hands; 
the authority he had so grossly exaggerated turned against him; 
and his faith was left without support. His system supplied no 
resource for such an emergency. He submitted, not because he 
was in error, but because Catholics had no right to defend the 
Church against the supreme will even of an erring PontifF.^^ 
He was persuaded that his silence would injure religion, yet he 
deemed it his duty to be silent and to abandon theology. He 
had ceased to believe that the Pope could not err ; but he still 
believed that he could not lawfully be disobeyed. In the two 
years during which he still remained in the Church his faith in 
her system fell rapidly to pieces. Within two months after the 
publication of the Encyclica he wrote that the Pope, like the 
other princes, seemed careful not to omit any blunder that 
could secure his annihilation.^^ Three weeks afterwards he de- 
nounced, in the fiercest terms, the corruption of Rome. He 
predicted that the ecclesiastical hierarchy was about to depart 
with the old monarchies ; and, though the Church could not die, 
he would not undertake to say that she would revive in her 
old forms. ^'-^ The Pope, he said, had so zealously embraced the 
cause of antichristian despotism as to sacrifice to it the religion 
of which he was the chief. He no longer felt it possible to 
distinguish what was immutable in the external organisation of 
the Church. He admitted the personal fallibility of the Pope, 
and declared that, though it was impossible, without Rome, to 
defend Catholicism successfully, yet nothing could be hoped for 
from her, and that she seemed to have condemned Catholicism 
to die.^'^ The Pope, he soon afterwards said, was in league 
with the kings in opposition to the eternal truths of religion, 

' Aug. 15, 1831. « Feb. 10, 1832. » July 6, 1829. 

>» Sept. 15, 1832. " Oct. 9, 1832. ^2 Jan. 25, 1833. '3 Feb. 5, 1833. 

Conflicts ivith Rome, 67! 

the hierarchy was out of court, and a transformation like that 
from which the Church and Papacy had sprung was about to 
bring them both to an end, after eighteen centuries, in Gregory 
XVI.^^ Before the following year was over he had ceased to 
be in communion with the Catholic Church. 

The fall of Lamennais, however impressive as a warning, is 
of no great historical importance ; for he carried no -one with 
him, and his favourite disciples became the ablest defenders of 
Catholicism in France. But it exemplifies one of the natural 
consequences of dissociating secuhir from religious truth, and 
denying that they hold in solution all the elements necessary 
for their reconciliation and union. In more recent times, the 
same error has led, by a contrary path, to still more lamentable 
results, and scepticism on the possibility of harmonising reason 
and faith has once more driven a philosopher into heresy. 
Between the fiiU of Lamennais and the conflict with Froh- 
schammer many metaphysical writers among the Catholic clergy 
had incurred the censures of Rome. It is enough to cite 
Bautain in France, Eosmini in Italy, and Giinther in Austria. 
But in these cases no scandal ensued, and the decrees were 
received with prompt and hearty submission. In the cases of 
Lamennais and Frohschammer no speculative question was ori- 
ginally at issue, but only the question of authority. A com- 
parison between their theories will explain the similarity in the 
courses of the two men, and at the same time will account for 
the contrast between the isolation of Lamennais and the influ- 
ence of Frohschammer, though the one was the most eloquent 
writer in France, and the head of a great school, and the other, 
before the late controversy, was not a writer of much name. 
This contrast is the more remarkable since religion had not re- 
vived in France when the French philosopher wrote, while for 
the last quarter of a century Bavaria has been distinguished 
among Catholic nations for the faith of her people. Yet La- 
mennais was powerless to injure a generation of comparatively 
ill-instructed Catholics, while Frohschammer, with inferior gifts- 
of persuasion, has won educated followers even in the home of 

The first obvious explanation of this dIflSculty is the narrow- 
ness of Lamennais's philosophy. At the time of his dispute 
with the Holy See he had somewhat lost sight of his tradition- 
alist theory ; and his attention, concentrated upon politics, was. 
directed to the problem of reconciling religion with liberty, — a 
question with which the best minds in France are still occupied. 
But how can a view of policy constitute a philosophy? He 
began by thinking that it was expedient for the Church to ob- 
» March 25, 1833. 

672 Conflicts with Rome 

tain the safeguards of freedom, and tliat she shonld renounce the 
losing cause of the old regime. But this was no more philosophy 
than the similar argument which had previously won her to the 
side of despotism when it was the stronger cause. As Bonald, 
however, had erected absolute monarchy into a dogma, so La- 
mennais proceeded to do with freedom. The Church, he said, 
was on the side of freedom, because it was the just side, not 
because it was the stronger. As De Maistre had seen the vic- 
tory of Catholic principles in the Restoration, so Lamennuis saw 
it in the revolution of 1830. 

This was obviously too narrow and temporary a basis for a 
philosophy. The Church is interested, not in the triumph of a 
principle or a cause which may be dated as that of 1789, or of 
1815, or of 1830, but in the triumph of justice and the just 
cause, whether it be that of the people or of the crown, of a 
Catholic party or of its opponents. She admits the tests of 
public law and political science. When these proclaim the 
existence of the conditions which justify an insurrection or a 
war, she cannot condemn that insurrection or that war. She is 
guided in her judgment on these causes by criteria which are 
not her own, but are borrowed from departments over which she 
has no supreme control. This is as true of science as it is of 
law and politics. Other truths are as certain as those which 
natural or positive law embraces, and other obligations as im- 
perative as those w^iich regulate the relations of subjects and 
authorities. The principle which places right above expedience 
in the political action of the Church has an equal application 
in history or in astronomy. The Church can no more identify 
her cause with scientific error than w^ith political wrong. Her 
interests may be impaired by some measure of political justice, 
or by the admission of some fact or document. But in neither 
case can she guard her interests at the cost of denying the 

This is the principle which has so much difficulty in obtain- 
ing recognition in an age when science is more or less irre- 
ligious, and when Catholics more or less neglect its study. 
Political and intellectual liberty have the same claims and the 
same conditions in the eyes of the Church. The Catholic 
judges the measures of governments and the discoveries of 
science in exactly the same manner. Public law may make it 
imperative to overthrow a Catholic monarch, like James II., 
or to uphold a Protestant monarch, like the King of Prussia. 
The demonstrations of science may oblige us to believe that 
the earth revolves round the sun, or that the donation of Con- 
stantine is epurious. The apparent interests of religion have 
much to say against all this; but religion itself prevents those 

Conflicts with Rome, 6T3 

considerations from prevailing. Tliis has not been seen by 
those writers who have done most in defence of the principle. 
They have usually considered it from the standing ground of 
their own practical aims, and have therefore foiled to attain 
that general view which might have been suggested to them by 
the pursuit of truth as a whole. French writers have done 
much for political liberty, and Germans for intellectual liberty; 
but the defenders of the one cause have generally had so little 
sympathy with the other, that they have nefrlected to defend 
their own on the grounds common to both. There is hardly a 
Catholic writer who has penetrated to the common source from 
which they spring. And this is the greatest defect in Catholic 
literature, even to the present day. 

In the majority of those who have afforded the chief ex- 
amples of this error, and particularly in Lamennais, the weak- 
ness of faith which it implies has been united with that looseness 
of thought which resolves all knowledge into opinion, and fails 
to appreciate methodical investigation or scientific evidence. 
But it is less easy to explain how a priest, fortified with the 
armour of Geruian science, should have failed as completely 
in the same enquiry. In order to solve the difficulty, we must 
go back to the time when the theory of Frohschammer arose, 
and review some of the circumstances out of which it sprang. 

For adjusting the relations between science and authority, 
the method of Rome had long been that of economy and accom- 
modation. In dealing with literature, her paramount consider- 
ation was the fear of scandal. Books were forbidden, not merely 
because their statements were denied, but because they seemed 
injurious to morals, derogatory to authority, or dangerous to 
faith. To be so, it was not necessary that they should be un- 
true. For isolated truths separated from other known truths 
by an interval of conjecture, in which error might find room to 
construct its works, may offer perilous occasions to unprepared 
and unstable minds. The policy was therefore to allow such 
truths to be put forward only hypothetically, or altogether to 
suppress them. The latter alternative was especially appro- 
priated to historical investigations, because they contained most 
elements of danger. In them the progress of knowledge has 
been for centuries constant, rapid, and sure ; every generation 
has brought to light masses of information previously unknown, 
the successive publication of which furnished ever new incen- 
tives and more and more ample means of enquiry into ecclesi- 
astical history. This enquiry has gradually laid bare the whole 
policy and process of ecclesiastical authority, and has removed 
from the past that veil of mystery wherewith, like all other au- 
thorities, it tries to surround the present. The human element 


674 Conflicts with Rome, 

in ecclesiastical administration endeavours to keep itself out of 
sight, and to deny its own existence, in order that it may se- 
cure the unquestioning submission which authority naturally 
desires, and may preserve that halo of infallibility which the 
twilight of opinion enables it to assume. Now the most severe 
exposure of the part played by this human element is found in 
histories w^hich show the undeniable existence of sin, error, or 
fraud, in the high-places of the Church. Not, indeed, that any 
history furnishes, or can furnish, materials for undermining the 
authority which the dogmas of the Church proclaim to be neces- 
sary for her existence. But the true limits of legitimate autho- 
rity are one thing, and the area which authority may find it 
expedient to attempt to occupy is another. The interests of the 
Church are not necessarily identical with those of the ecclesias- 
tical government. A government does not desire its powers to 
be strictly defined ; but the subjects require the line to be drawn 
with increasing precision. Authority may be protected by its 
subjects being kept in ignorance of its faults, and by their hold- 
ing it in superstitious admiration. But religion has no commu- 
nion with any manner of error ; and the conscience can only be 
injured by such arts, which, in reality, give a far more formidable 
measure of the influence of the human element in ecclesiastical 
government than any collection of detached cases of scandal 
can do. For these arts are simply those of all human govern- 
ments which possess legislative power, fear attack, deny re- 
sponsibility, and therefore shrink from scrutiny. 

One of the great instruments for preventing historical scru- 
tiny had long been the Index of prohibited books, which was 
accordingly directed, not against falsehood only, but particularly 
against certain departments of truth. Through it an effort had 
been made to keep the knowledge of ecclesiastical history from 
the faithful, and to give currency to a fabulous and fictitious 
picture of the progress and action of the Church. The means 
would have been found quite inadequate to the end, if it had 
not been for the fact that while society was absorbed by con- 
troversy knowledge was only valued so far as it served a con- 
troversial purpose. Every party in those days virtually had its 
own prohibitive Index, to brand all inconvenient truths w^ith the 
note of falsehood. No party cared for knowledge that could not 
be made available for arg-ument. Neutral and ambifi^uous science 

• -r 

had no attractions for men engaged in perpetual combat. Its 
spirit first won the naturalists, the mathematicians, and the phi- 
lologists ; then it vivified the otherwise aimless erudition of the 
Benedictines; and at last it was carried into history, to give 
new life to those sciences which deal with the tradition, tlic law, 
and the action of the Church. 

Conflicts with Rome, 675 

The home of this transformation was in the universities of 
Germany; for there the Catholic teacher was placed in circum- 
stances altogether novel. He had to address men who had 
every opportunity of becoming familiar with the arguments of 
the enemies of the Church, and with the discoveries and con- 
clusions of those whose studies were without the bias of any 
religious object. Whilst he lectured in one room, the next 
might be occupied by a pantheist, a rationalist, or a Lutheran, 
descanting on the same topics. When he left the desk, his 
place miglit be taken by some great original thinker or scholar, 
who would display all the results of his meditations without 
regard for their tendency, and without considering what effects 
they might have on the weak. He was obliged often to draw 
attention to books lacking the Catholic spirit, but indispensable 
to the deeper student. Here, therefore, the system of secrecy, 
economy, and accommodation was rendered impossible by the 
competition of knowledge, in which the most thorough ex- 
position of the truth was sure of the victory; and the system 
itself became inapplicable as the scientific spirit penetrated 
ecclesiastical literature in Germany. 

In Rome, however, where the influences of competition were 
not felt, the reasons of the change could not be understood, nor 
its benefits experienced; and it was thought absurd that the 
Germans of the nineteenth century should discard weapons 
which had been found efl^icacious with the Germans of the six- 
teenth. While in Rome it was still held that the truths of 
science need not be told, and ought not to be told, if, in the 
judgment of Roman theologians, they were of a nature to offend 
faith, in Germany Catholics vied with Protestants in publishing 
matter without being diverted by the consideration Avhether it 
might serve or injure their cause in controversy, or whether it 
was adverse or favourable to the views which it was the object 
of the Index to protect. But though this great antagonism 
existed, there was no collision. A moderation was exhibited 
which contrasted remarkably with the aggressive spirit pre- 
vailing in France and Italy. rPublications were suffered to pass 
unnoted in Germany which would have been immediately cen- 
sured if they had come forth beyond the Alps or the Rhine. 
In this way a certain laxity grew up side by side with an un- 
measured distrust, and German theologians and historians es- 
caped censure. 

This toleration gains significance from its contrast to the 
severity with which Rome smote the German philosophers like 
Hermes and Giinther when they erred. Here, indeed, the case 
was very different. If Rome had insisted upon suppressing docu- 
ments, perverting facts, and resisting criticism, she would have 

VOL. IV. y y 

676 Conflicts with Rome, 

been only opposing truth, and opposing it consciously, for fear of 
its inconveniences. But if she had refrained from denouncing 
a philosophy which denied creation or the personality of God, she 
would have failed to assert her own doctrines against her own 
children who contradicted them. The philosopher cannot claim 
the same exemption as the historian. God's handwriting exists 
in history independently of the Church, and no ecclesiastical 
exigence can alter a fact. The divine lesson has been read; 
and it is the historian's duty to copy it faithfully without bias 
and without ulterior views. The Catholic may be sure that as 
the Church has lived in spite of the fact, she will also survive its 
publication. But philosophy has to deal with some facts which, 
although as absolute and objective in themselves, are not and 
cannot be known to us except through revelation, of which the 
Church is the organ. A philosophy which requires the altera- 
tion of these facts is in patent contradiction against the Church. 
Both cannot coexist. One must destroy the other. 

Two circumstances very naturally arose to disturb this 
equilibrium. There were divines who wished to extend to 
Germany the old authority of the Index, and to censure or pro- 
hibit books which, though not heretical, contained matter in- 
jurious to the reputation of ecclesiastical authority, or contrary 
to the common opinions of Catholic theologians. On the other 
hand, there were philosophers, of the schools of Hermes and 
Giinther, who would not retract the doctrines which the Church 
condemned. One movement tended to repress even the know- 
ledge of demonstrable truth ; and the other aimed at destroying 
the dogmatic authority of the Holy See. In this way a colli- 
sion was prepared, which was eventually brought about by the 
writings of Dr. Frohschammer, 

Ten years ago, when he was a very young lecturer on 
philosophy in the university of Munich, he published a work on 
the origin of the soul, in which he argued against the theory of 
preexistence, and against the common opinion that each soul 
is created directly by Almighty God, defending the theory of 
Generatianism by the authority of several Fathers, and quot- 
ing, among other modern divines, Klee, the author of the most 
esteemed treatise of dogmatic theology in the German language. 
It was decided at Rome that his book should bo condemned ; 
and he was informed of the intention, in order that he might 
announce his submission before the publication of the decree. 

His position was a difficult one; and it appears to be ad- 
mitted that his conduct at this stage was not j)rompted by those 
opinions on the authority of the Church, in which he afterwards 
took refuge, but must be explained by the known facts of the 
case. His doctrine had been lately taught in a book generally 

Conflicts with Rome. 677 

read and approved. He was convinced that he had at least 
refuted the opposite theories; and yet it was apparently in be- 
half of one of these that he was condemned. Whatever errors his 
book contained, he might fear that an act of submission would 
seem to imply his acceptance of an opinion he heartily believed 
to be wrong, and would therefore be an act of treason to truth. 
The decree conveyed no conviction to his mind. It is only 
the utterances of an infallible authority that men can believe 
without argument and explanation ; and here was an autho- 
rity not infallible, giving no reasons, and yet claiming a sub- 
mission of the reason. Dr. Frohschammer found himself in 
a dilemma. To submit absolutely would either be a virtual 
acknowledgment of the infallibility of the authority, or a con- 
fession that an ecclesiastical decision necessarily bound the 
mind irrespectively of its truth or justice. In either case, he 
would have contradicted the law of religion and of the Church. 
To submit, while retaining his own opinion, to a disciplinary 
decree, in order to preserve peace and avoid scandal, and to make 
a general acknowledgment that his work contained various ill- 
considered and equivocal statements which might bear a bad 
construction, — such a conditional submission either would not 
have been that which the Koman Court desired and intended, 
or, if made without explicit statement of its meaning, would 
have been in some measure deceitful and hypocritical. In the 
first case it would not have been received ; in the second case 
it could not have been made without loss of S2lf-respect. More- 
over, as the writer was a public professor, bound to instruct 
his hearers accordino; to his best knowledge, he could not 
change his teaching while his opinion remained unchanged. 
These considerations, and not any desire to defy authority, or 
introduce new opinions by a process more or less revolutionary, 
appear to have guided his conduct. At this period it might 
have been possible to arrive at an understanding, or to obtain 
satisfactory explanations, if the Roman Court would have told 
him what points were at issue, what passages in his book were 
impugned, and what were the grounds for suspecting them. If 
there was on both sides a peaceful and conciliatory spirit, and 
a desire to settle the problem, there was certainly a chance of 
ciFecting it by a candid interchange of explanations. It was a 
course which had proved efficacious on other occasions ; and in 
the then recent discussion of Giinther's system it had been pur- 
sued with great patience, and decided success. 

Before giving a definite reply, therefore, Dr. Frohschammer 
asked for information about the incriminated articles. This 
would have given him an opportunity of seeing his error, and 
making a submission in for o interno. But the request was re- 

GTS Conflicts with Rome, 

fused. It was a favour, he was told, sometimes extended to men 
whose great services to the Church deserved such consideration, 
but not to one who was hardly known except by the very book 
which had incurred the censure. This answer instantly aroused 
a suspicion that the Roman Court was more anxious to assert 
its authority than to correct an alleged error, or to prevent a 
scandal. It was well known that the mistrust of German phi- 
losophy was very deep at Rome; and it seemed far from im- 
possible that an intention existed to put it under all possible 

This mistrust on the part of the Roman divines was fully 
equalled, and so far justified, by a corresponding literary con- 
tempt on the part of many German Catholic scholars. It is 
easy to understand the grounds of this feeling. The German 
writers were ensrasjed in an arduous strus^gle in which their 
antagonists were sustained by intellectual power, solid learn- 
ing, and deep thought, such as the defenders of the Church 
in Catholic countries have never had to encounter. In this 
conflict the Italian divines could render no assistance. They 
had shown themselves altogether incompetent to cope with 
modern science. The Germans, therefore, unable to recognise 
them as auxiliaries, soon ceased to regard them as equals, or as 
scientific divines at all. Without impeaching their orthodoxy, 
they learned to look on them as men incapable of understanding 
and mastering the ideas of a literature so very remote from their 
own, and to attach no more value to the unreasoned decrees of 
their organ than to the undefended ipse dixit of a theologian of 
secondary rank. This opinion sprang, not from national pre- 
judice or from the self-appreciation of individuals comparing 
their own works with those of the Roman divines, but from a 
general view of the relation of those divines, among whom there 
are several distinguished Germans, to the literature of Germany. 
It was thus a corporate feeling, which might be shared even by 
one who was conscious of his own inferiority, or who had written 
nothing at all. Such a man, weighing the opinion of the theo- 
logians of the Gesu and the Minerva, not in the scale of his 
own performances, but in that of the great achievements of his 
age, might well be reluctant to accept their verdict upon them 
without some aid of argument and explanation. 

On the other hand, it appeared that a blow which struck the 
Catholic scholars of Germany would assure to the victorious 
congregation of Roman divines an easy supremacy over the 
writers of all other countries. The case of Dr. Frohschammer 
might be made to test what degree of control it would be pos- 
sible to exercise over his countrymen, the only body of writers 
at whom alarm was felt, and who insisted, more than others, on 

Conflicts ivith Home, 679 

their freedom. But the suspicion of such a possibility was likely 
only to confirm him in the idea that he was chosen to be the 
experimental body on which an important principle was to be 
decided, and that it was his duty, till his dogmatic error was 
proved, to resist a questionable encroachment of authority upon 
the rights of freedom. He therefore refused to make the preli- 
minary submission which was required of him, and allowed the 
decree to go forth against him in the usual way. Hereupon it 
was intimated to him — though not by Rome — that he had in- 
curred excommunication. This was the measure which raised 
the momentous question of the liberties of Catholic science, and 
gave the impulse to that new theory on the limits of authority 
with which his name has become associated. 

In the civil aifairs of mankind, it is necessary to assume that 
the knowledge of the moral code and the traditions of law can- 
not perish in a Christian nation. Particular authorities may 
fall into error; decisions may be appealed against; laws may be 
repealed. But the political conscience of the whole people can- 
not be irrecoverably lost. The Church possesses the same pri- 
vilege, but in a much higher degree ; for she exists expressly 
for the purpose of preserving a definite body of truths, the 
knowledge of which she can never lose. Whatever authority 
therefore expresses that knowledge of which she is the keeper 
must be obeyed. But there is no institution from which this 
knowledge can be obtained with immediate certainty. A coun- 
cil is not a priori oecumenical ; the Holy See is not separately 
infallible. The one has to await a sanction ; the other has re- 
peatedly erred. Every decree, therefore, requires a preliminary 

A writer who is censured may in the first place yield an 
external submission, either for the sake of discipline, or because 
his conviction is too weak to support him against the weight of 
authority. But if the question at issue is more important than 
the preservation of peace, and if his conviction is strong, he en- 
quires whether the authority which condemns him utters the voice 
of the Church. If he finds that it does, he yields to it, or ceases to 
profess the faith of Catholics. If he finds that it does not, but 
is only the voice of authority, he owes it to his conscience, and 
to the supreme claims of truth, to remain constant to that which 
he believes, in spite of opposition. No authority has power to 
impose error; and, if it resists the truth, the truth must be 
upheld until it is admitted. Now the adversaries of Dr. Froh- 
schammer had fallen into the monstrous error of attributing to 
the Congregation of the Index a share in the infallibility of the 
Church. He was placed in the position of a persecuted man; 
and the general sympathy was with him. In his defence he 

680 Conflicts with Rome, 

proceeded to state his theory of the rights of science, in order 
to vindicate the Church from the imputation of restricting its 
freedom. Hitherto his works liad been written in defence of a 
Christian philosophy against materiahsm and infidelity. Their 
object had been thoroughly religious ; and although he was not 
deeply read in ecclesiastical literature, and was often loose and 
incautious in the use of theological terms, his writings had not 
been wanting in catholicity of spirit. But after his condemna- 
tion by Rome he undertook to pull down the power which had 
dealt the blow, and to make himself safe for the future. In 
this spirit of personal antagonism he commenced a long series of 
writings in defence of freedom and in defiance of authority. 

The following abstract marks, not so much the outline of his 
system, as the logical steps which carried him to the point where 
he passed beyond the limits of Catholicism. Religion, he taught, 
supplies materials but no criterion for philosophy; philosophy 
has nothing to rely on, in the last resort, but the unfailing 
veracity of our nature, which is not corrupt or weak, but nor- 
mally healthy, and unable to deceive us.^^ There is not greater 
division or uncertainty in matters of speculation than on ques- 
tions of faith. ^^ If at any time error or doubt should arise, the 
science possesses in itself the means of correcting or removing 
it, and no other remedy is efficacious but that which it applies 
to itself. ^^ There can be no free philosophy if w^e must always 
remember dogma.^^ Philosophy includes in its sphere all the 
dogmas of revelation, as well as those of natural religion. It 
examines by its own independent light the substance of every 
Christian doctrine, and determines in each case whether it be 
divine truth.^9 The conclusions and judgments at which it thus 
arrives must be maintained even when they contradict articles 
of faith.^^ As we accept the evidence of astronomy in opposi- 
tion to the once settled opinion of divines, so we should not 
shrink from the evidence of chemistry if it should be adverse to 
transsubstantiation.-^ The Church, on the other hand, examines 
these conclusions by her standard of faith, and decides whether 
they can be taught in theology.^^ But she has no means of 
ascertaining the philosophical truth of an opinion, and cannot 
convict the philosopher of error. The two domains are as dis- 
tinct as reason and faith ; and we must not identify what we 
know with what we believe, but must separate the philosopher 
from his philosophy. The system may be utterly at variance 
with the whole teaching of Christianity, and yet the philosopher, 

'* Naturphiloaophie, p. 115; Einleitung in die Philosophie, pp. 40, 54; Freiheit 
der Wissenschaft, pp. 4, 89 ; Athendum, i. 17. 

•^ AthenUum, i. 92. '7 Freiheit der Wissenschaft, p. 32. 

»8 AthenUum, i. 167. '^ Einleitung, pp. 305, 317, 397. 

^ Athendum, i. 208. « Ibid. ii. 655. '^- Ibid. ii. 676. 

Conflicts with Rome. 681 

while he holds it to be philosophically true and certain, may 
continue to believe all Catholic doctrine, and to perform all the 
spiritual duties of a layman or a priest. For discord cannot 
exist between the certain results of scientific investigation and 
the real doctrines of the Church. Both are true, and there is 
no conflict of truths. But while the teaching of science is dis- 
tinct and definite, that of the Church is subject to alteration. 
Theology is at no time absolutely complete, but always liable 
to be modified, and cannot therefore be made a fixed test of 
truth.-^ Consequently there is no reason against the union of 
the Churches. For the liberty of private judgment, which is 
the formal principle of Protestantism, belongs to Catholics ; and 
there is no actual Catholic dogma which may not lose all that 
is objectionable to Protestants by the transforming process of 

The errors of Dr. Frohschammer in these passages are not 
exclusively his own. He has only drawn certain conclusions 
from premisses which are very commonly received. Nothing is 
more usual than to confound religious truth with the voice of 
ecclesiastical authority. Dr. Frohschammer, having fallen into 
this vulgar mistake, argues that because the authority is fallible 
the truth must be uncertain. Many Catholics attribute to theo- 
logical opinions which have prevailed for centuries without re- 
proach a sacredness nearly approaching that w^hich belongs to 
articles of faith : Dr. Frohschammer extends to defined dogmas 
the liability to change which belongs to opinions that yet aw^ait a 
final and conclusive investigation. Thousands of zealous men are 
persuaded that a conflict may arise between defined doctrines of 
the Church and conclusions which are certain according to all 
the tests of science : Dr. Frohschammer adopts this view, and 
argues that none of the decisions of the Church are final, and 
that consequently in such a case they must give way. Lastly, 
uninstructed men commonly impute to historical and natural 
science the uncertainty which is inseparable from pure specula- 
tion: Dr. Frohschammer accepts the equality, but claims for 
metaphysics the same certainty and independence which those 
sciences possess. 

Having begun his course in company with many who have 
exactly opposite ends in view. Dr. Frohschammer, in a recent 
tract on the union of the Churches, entirely separates himself 
from the Catholic Church in his theory of development. He 
had received the impulse to his new system from the opposition 
of those whom he considered the advocates of an excessive uni- 
formity, and the enemies of progress ; and their contradiction 

23 Atheniium, ii. 661. 

^ Wiedervereiniyung der Katholiken und Frotestanten, pp. 26, 35. 

682 ' Conflicts with Rome, 

Las driven him to a point where he entirely sacrifices unity to 
change. He now affirms that our Lord desired no unity or 
perfect conformity among His followers, except in morals and 
charity;-^ that He gave no definite system of doctrine; and that 
the form which Christian faith may have assumed in a particu- 
lar age has no validity for all future time, but is subject to con- 
tinual modification."^ The definitions, he says, which the Church 
has made from time to time are not to be obstinately adhered 
to ; and the advancement of religious knowledge is obtained by 
genius, not by learning, and is not regulated by traditions and 
fixed rules.'-^ He maintains that not only the form bvit the 
substance varies; that the belief of one age may be not only 
extended but abandoned in another ; and that it is Impossible to 
draw the line which separates immutable dogma from undecided 

The causes which drove Dr. Frohschammer into heresy would 
scarcely have deserved great attention from the mere merit of 
the man; for he cannot be acquitted of having, in the first 
instance, exhibited very superficial notions of theology. Their 
instructiveness consists in the conspicuous example they afford 
of the eflPect of certain errors which at the present day are com- 
monly held and rarely contradicted. When he found himself 
censured unjustly, as he thought, by the Holy See, it should 
have been enough for him to believe in his conscience that he 
was in agreement with the true faith of the Church. He would 
not then have proceeded to consider the whole Church infected 
with the liability to err from which her rulers are not exempt, 
or to degrade the fundamental truths of Christianity to the level 
of mere school opinions. Authority appeared in his eyes to 
stand for the whole Church ; and therefore. In endeavouring to 
shield himself from its influence, he abandoned the first principles 
of the ecclesiastical system. Far from having aided the cause 
of freedom, his errors have provoked a reaction against it, which 
must be looked upon with deep anxiety, and of which the first 
significant symptom remains to be described. 

On the 21st of December 1863 the Pope addressed a Brief 
to the Archbishop of Munich, which was published on the 5th 
of March. This document^^ explains that the Holy Father had 
originally been led to suspect the recent congress at Munich 
of a tendency similar to that of Frohschammer, and had con- 
sequently viewed it with great distrust ; but that these feelings 
were removed by the address which was adopted at the meet- 
ing, and by the report of the Archbishop. And he expresses the 

" Wiedervereinigung, pp. 8, 10. 

26 p. 15, =7 p. 21. ^ pp. 25, 26. 

^ The document is printed in full at the end of this article. 

Covjlicts with Rome, 683 

consolation he has derived from the principles which prevailed 
in the assembly, and applauds the design of those by whom it 
w^as convened. He asks for the opinion of the German prelates, 
in order to be able to determine whether, in the present cir- 
cumstances of their Church, it is right that the congress should 
be renewed. 

Besides the censure of the doctrines of Frohschammer, and 
the approbation given to the acts of the Munich congress, the 
Brief contains passages of deeper and more general import, not 
directly touching the action of the German divines, but having 
an important bearing on the position of this Eeview. The sub- 
stance of these passages is as follows : — In the present condition 
of society the supreme authority in the Church is more than ever 
necessary, and must not surrender in the smallest degree the 
exclusive direction of ecclesiastical knowledge. An entire obe- 
dience to the decrees of the Holy See and the Eoman congre- 
gations cannot be inconsistent w^ith the freedom and progress 
of science. The disposition to find fault with the scholastic 
theology, and to dispute the conclusions and the method of its 
teachers, threatens the authority of the Church, because the 
Church has not only allowed theology to remain for centuries 
faithful to their system, but has urgently recommended it as the 
safest bulwark of the faith, and an efficient weapon against her 
enemies. Catholic writers are not bound only by those decisions 
of the infallible Church which regard articles of faith. They 
must also submit to the theological decisions of the Roman Con- 
gregations, and to the opinions which are commonly received 
in the schools. And it is wrong, though not heretical, to reject 
those decisions or opinions. 

In a word, therefore, the Brief affirms that the common 
opinions and explanations of Catholic divines ought not to yield 
to the progress of secular science, and that the course of theo- 
logical knowledge ought to be controlled by the decrees of the 

There is no doubt that the letter of this document might be 
interpreted in a sense consistent with the habitual language of 
The Home and Foreign Revieiu. On the one hand, the censure 
is evidently aimed at that exaggerated claim of independence 
which would deny to the Pope and the Episcopate any right of 
interfering in literature, and would transfer the whole weight 
heretofore belonging to the traditions of the schools of theology 
to the incomplete, and therefore uncertain, conclusions of mo- 
dern science. On the other hand, the Review has always main- 
tained, in common with all Catholics, that if the one Church has 
an organ it is through that organ that she must speak ; that her 
authority is not limited to the precise sphere of her infallibility; 

684 Covflicts with Rome, 

and that opinions which she has long tolerated or approved, and 
has for centuries found compatible with the secular as well as 
religious knowledge of the age, cannot be lightly supplanted by 
new hypotheses of scientific men, which have not yet had time 
to prove their consistency with dogmatic truth. But such a 
plausible accommodation, even if it were honest or dignified, 
would only disguise and obscure those ideas which it has been 
the chief object of the Keview to proclaim. It is therefore not 
only more respectful to the Holy See, but more serviceable to 
the principles of the Review itself, and more in accordance with 
the spirit in which it has been conducted, to interpret the words 
of the Pope as they were really meant, than to elude their con- 
sequences by subtle distinctions, and to profess a formal adop- 
tion of maxims which no man who holds the principles of the 
Keview can accept in their intended signification. 

One of these maxims is that theological and other opinions 
long held and allov/ed in the Church gather truth from time, 
and an authority in some sort binding from the implied sanc- 
tion of the Holy See, so that they cannot be rejected without 
rashness ; and that the decrees of the Congregation of the Index 
possess an authority quite independent of the acquirements 
of the men composing it. This is no new opinion ; it is only 
expressed on the present occasion with unusual solemnity and 
distinctness. But one of the essential principles of this Review 
consists in a clear recognition, first, of the infinite gulf which 
in theology separates what is of faith from what is not of faith, 
— revealed dogmas from opinions unconnected with them by 
logical necessity, and therefore incapable of any thing higher 
than a natural certainty, — and next, of the practical difference 
which exists in ecclesiastical discipline between the acts of 
infallible authority and those which possess no higher sanction 
than that of canonical legality. That which is not decided 
with dogmatic infallibility is for the time susceptible only of a 
scientific determination, which advances with the progress of 
science, and becomes absolute only where science has attained 
its final results. On the one hand, this scientific progress is 
beneficial, and even necessary, to the Church ; on the other, 
it must inevitably be opposed by the guardians of traditional 
opinion, to whom, as such, no share in it belongs, and who by 
their own acts and those of their predecessors are committed to 
views which it menaces or destroys. The same principle which, 
in certain conjunctures, imposes the duty of surrendering re- 
ceived opinions imposes in equal extent, and under like con- 
ditions, the duty of disregarding the fallible authorities that 
uphold them. 

It is the design of the Holy See not, of course, to deny 


Conflicts tvith Rome. 685 

the distinction between dogma and opinion, upon which this 
duty is founded, but to reduce tlie practical recognition of it 
among Catholics to the smallest potfsible limits. A grave ques- 
tion therefore arises as to the position of a He view founded in 
great part for the purpose of exemplifying this distinction.^*^ 
In considering the solution of this question two circumstances 
must be borne in mind : first, that the antagonism now so 
forcibly expressed has always been known and acknowledged ; 
and secondly, that no part of the Brief applies directly to the 
Review. The Review was as distinctly opposed to the Roman 
sentiment before the Brief as since ; and it is still as free from 
censure as before. It was at no time in virtual sympathy with 
authority on the points in question; and it is not now in formal 
conflict with authority. 

But the definlteness with w^iich the Holy See has pronounced 
its will, and the fact that it has taken the initiative, seem posi- 
tively to invite adhesion, and to convey a special warning to 
all who have expressed opinions contrary to the maxims of tlie 
Brief. A periodical which not only has done so, but exists in 
a measure for the purpose of doing so, cannot with propriety 
refuse to survey the new position in which it is placed by this 
important act. For the conduct of a Review involves more 
delicate relations \Yith the government of the Church than 
the authorship of an isolated book. When opinions which 
an author defends are rejected at Rome, he either makes his 
submission, or, if his mind remains unaltered, silently leaves 
his book to take its chance, and to influence men according to 
its merits. But such passivity, however right and seemly in 
the author of a book, is inapplicable to the case of a Review. 
The periodical iteration of rejected propositions would amount 
to insult and defiance, and would probably provoke more de- 
finite measures; and thus the result would be to commit autho- 
rity yet more irrevocably to an opinion which otherwise might 
take no deep root, and might yield ultimately to the influence 
of time. For it is hard to surrender a cause on behalf of which 
a struggle has been sustained, and spiritual evils have been in- 
flicted. In an isolated book, the author need discuss no more 
topics than he likes, and any want of agreement with ecclesi- 
astical authority may receive so little prominence as to excite 

^ The prospectus of the Review contained these words : '* It will abstain 
from direct theological discussion, as far as external circumstances will allow: 
and in dealing with those mixed questions into which theology indirectly enters, 
its aim will be to combine devotion to the Church with discrimination and can- 
dour in the treatment of her opponents ; to reconcile freedom of enquiry with 
implicit faith ; and to discountenance what is untenable and unreal, without for- 
getting the tenderness due to the weak, or the reverence rightly claimed for 
what is sacred. Submitting without reserve to infallible authority, it will en- 
courage a habit of manly investigation on subjects of scientific interest." 

686 Conflicts with Rome, 

no attention. But a continuous Review whicli adopted this 
kind of reserve would give a negative prominence to the topics 
it persistently avoided, and by thus keeping before the world 
the position it occupied would hold out a perpetual invitation 
to its readers to judge between the Church and itself. What- 
ever it gained of approbation and assent would be so much lost 
to the authority and dignity of the Holy See. It could only 
hope to succeed by trading on the scandal it caused. 

But in reality its success could no longer advance the cause 
of truth. For what is the Holy See in its relation to the 
masses of Catholics, and where does its strength lie? It is 
the organ, the mouth, the head, of the Church. Its strength 
consists in its agreement with the general conviction of the 
faithful. When it expresses the common knowledge and sense 
of the age, or of a large majority of Catholics, its position is 
impregnable. The force it derives from this general support 
makes direct opposition hopeless, and therefore disedifying, 
tending only to division, and promoting reaction rather than 
reform. The influence by which it is to be moved must be 
directed first on that which gives it strength, and must pervade 
the members in order that it may reach the head. While the 
general sentiment of Catholics is unaltered, the course of the 
Holy See remains unaltered too. As soon as that sentiment is M 
modified, Home sympathises with the change. The ecclesiastical "J 
government, based upon the public opinion of the Church, and 
acting through it, cannot separate itself from the mass of the 
faithful, and keep pace with the progress of the instructed 
minority. It follows slowly and warily, and sometimes begins by 
resisting and denouncing what in the end it thoroughly adopts. 
Hence a direct controversy with Rome holds out the prospect of 
great evils, and at best a barren and unprofitable victory. The 
victory that is fruitful springs from that gradual change in the 
knowledge, the ideas, and the convictions, of the Catholic body, 
which, in due time, overcomes the natural reluctance to forsake 
a beaten path, and by insensible degrees constrains the mouth- 
piece of tradition to conform itself to the new atmosphere with 
■which it is surrounded. The slow, silent, indirect action of 
public opinion bears